Rape Charges Against Law Student Dismissed

Former Emory Law student Juan Pablo Alforja Castiella is no longer facing multiple rape charges after a judge dismissed all charges at a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

Alforja Castiella was charged with rape, aggravated sodomy and sexual battery after a two-month Emory Police Department (EPD) investigation. He was released from DeKalb County Jail early Thursday.

The district attorney’s office could still convene a grand jury to indict Alforja Castiella on the same charges. DeKalb County District Attorney Yvette Jones declined to answer the Wheel’s questions by email, citing an ongoing investigation.

“Upon completion of our investigation and a review of all the facts, circumstances and evidence related to this matter, we will make a determination regarding the best course of prosecutorial action,” Jones wrote in a Nov. 30 email to the Wheel.

After Alforja Castiella’s Nov. 15 arrest, Emory withdrew him from the Law School. Alforja Castiella remains unenrolled as of Friday afternoon, according to his attorney, Emory Law Adjunct Professor Jason Sheffield. Sheffield said he hopes Emory will reverse its decision to withdraw Alforja Castiella and allow him to return to classes.

The Emory Law Student Handbook states that the dean may involuntarily withdraw students due to “academic dismissal, moral turpitude or medical reasons.” Alforja Castiella was set to receive a juris doctorate degree in Spring 2019.

Sheffield said EPD investigators wrongfully trusted the alleged victim’s statement without corroborating physical evidence.

“[EPD] demonstrated a lack of investigation and follow through [and] made sweeping assumptions that were incredibly unfair,” Sheffield said. “They have all but destroyed his life.”

Sheffield said Alforja Castiella is “overjoyed” by the judge’s decision but remains “devastated” by how Emory has investigated and handled the case.

“I hope Emory University will offer a very heartfelt and public apology to Mr. Castiella and not destroy his future,” Sheffield said. “He has the support of a tremendous community of friends and students and family.”

Associate Vice President of University Communications Nancy Seideman did not provide a statement for EPD or Emory University by publication time.

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