Nightmare on Elm Street: Mistrial Called in “Monster Cave” Case

A Menlo Park man accused of molesting a 10-year-old boy is out on bail.

After 12 days of deliberating, jurors could not agree on whether a Menlo Park man accused of molesting his neighbor’s son is guilty or not – again.

Eight deemed him guilty, two found him not guilty, and two couldn’t decide, according to San Mateo County District Attorney’s records.

"When they were brought into the courtroom, they were asked about their ability to reach a verdict," said Karen Guidotti, Chief Criminal Deputy for the County of San Mateo. Jurors said they were having problems arriving at a unanimous verdict, because some of the jurors were not participating in the deliberations, she said.

“It seemed like the jurors had already made up their mind,” Guidotti said of the sentiment surrounding the claims.  Those two jurors were the ones who were undecided, she said. Their inability to agree on a verdict led the courts to declare a mistrial this week. This is the second mistrial declared in the case of the People v. Horacio Carlos Teran.

Teran is a well-funded Menlo Park resident who was charged with five counts of committing lewd acts on a child, according to public records provided by the DA's office.

The child was 10-year-old boy who used to play a game similar to tag with Teran’s son. On multiple occasions, when Teran joined the game and tagged the boy, he would take him to the “monster cave,” which was the man’s back yard, according to District Attorney records. The boy was then instructed to close his eyes and count to twenty. During that time the defendant would fondle the victim, according to the DA’s records.

“They played this game,” admitted Michael Armstrong, Teran’s defense attorney. “But he never touched the boy,” he told Patch.     

The first time the case went to court on Sept. 12, 2012 the case was declared a mistrial, because witness testimony had not been provided to Armstrong, according to the DA’s office. During this year’s trial, the testimony was admitted. 

Cases like this are unusual in Menlo Park, California, which has about 32,000 residents according to the U.S. Census. About 25 percent of those residents are less than 18 years of age. Menlo Park Police records show that three incidents of child molestation were reported in 2010. The next year, that number increased to seven. In 2012, six adults committed lewd acts on children in Menlo Park.

While the original charges against Teran were filed on March 27, 2010, according to Menlo Park Police records, litigation did not begin until a year later.Some people speculate that this is because the allegations of improper conduct with a child are false. Others are not certain and have taken precautions to protect their kids.

In 2011, one of Teran’s neighbors petitioned the courts for a restraining order against him. The conditions of the restraining order were granted, except for the condition to stay away from the schools where her child attends school.  “Respondent's own child attends one of those schools,” reads the case report.  That injunction expires at midnight on Sept. 14, 2014.

The case has since escalated in the public arena. One concerned individual wrote a letter to Teran’s boss at First Republic Securities detailing the case, which jeopardized his status at the company, according to Armstrong. Another person, who commented on a previous Patch article on February 28 said all the allegations are flimsy.

“This case completely fabricated by mother (if she can have this title) using her son as staged victim trying to solve her financial problems by accusing innocent person with highest personal and business integrity,” said Irene Allen, whose relationship to Teran is unknown.

During the entire time, Teran has been on a $50,000 cash bail. 

On March 20, the case was declared a mistrial. The courts will review the case again on April 12 to decide how to proceed.

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Alison April 05, 2013 at 12:18 AM
The original story said that the first mistrial was caused because the prosecutor didn't turn over witness testimony. Why was this information removed?
Glinda Good April 13, 2013 at 12:20 AM
I think that you are on to something here, Allison. According to earlier Patch reporting, the original reason given by the DA's office for the 1st mistrial was that, for the first time, the victim's Mother said that the boy had to seek counseling due to the alleged improper behavior. That does not make much sense to me as a reason for a mistrial and I am surprised that the journalist did not look into it further. Now the reason has been changed in this updated story to reflect what appears to either be an error or misconduct on the part of the DA. Something considered important enough by a judge for there to be due process was not submitted by the DA in the first trial. Doesn't the DA's office have a responsibility to give the real reason for the mistrial in the first place and if it was due to "error" on her part, why isn't she held accountable.
Alison April 14, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Glinda Good, you are on to something, too. Reporter Vanessa: Can you explain the discrepancies in the stories from the DA's office about what caused the FIRST mistrial? And why did your information about it being caused by the reporter failing to turn over witness information disappear from your story here?
Alison April 14, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Ok, I see now that theinformation was not removed about the prosecutor failing to turn over witness testimony. I would still like the reporter to clear up the original story that the first mistrial was caused because the boy had to seek counseling. As Glinda points out, the stories don't jibe. Which is the truth?
Alison October 17, 2013 at 12:29 PM
What's going on with this case? Has a retrial date been sent?


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