Defendant In Douglas Sexual Assault Cannot Keep Copy Of Key Evidence

Cristian Joseph Ross [Photo courtesy Cochise County Sheriff's Office]

A Douglas man accused of sexually assaulting a woman last year while she was restrained cannot have a copy of a key piece of evidence in the case and can only view it in the presence of his attorney, according to court records.

Cristian Joseph Ross is charged with 10 felonies stemming from a June 8, 2019 incident in which a woman told officers with the Douglas Police Department that Ross tied her up -once with a belt, another time with a cable- and repeatedly assaulted her. Detectives later found video of the assault on a cellphone Ross admitted was his.

Ross, 24, has been ordered to appear in Cochise County Superior Court on Sept. 8 for a pretrial conference at which time a jury trial date could be announced. He faces decades in prison if convicted of all charges.

In preparation for a trial, the Cochise County Attorney’s Office turned over the video footage to Rafael Malanga, the attorney representing Ross. However, prosecutor Michael Powell obtained a protective order from Judge Timothy Dickerson which limits what Malanga can do with the explicit video.

“It is further ordered that Defense counsel shall maintain the Defense copy of the footage in a secure location,” Dickerson’s order states. “The footage may be reviewed with the Defendant as necessary to prepare a defense, but neither the footage nor a copy shall be transferred to the Defendant’s possession.”

The protective order also applied to other persons whom the defense works with in the case, including any expert witness who needs to review the footage.

“The defense shall ensure that the expert not further reproduce or distribute the footage,” the order states. “No person who refuses to abide by the terms of this Order shall be permitted to possess or handle the protected material.”

Ross and his attorney were scheduled for a settlement conference with Powell and a different judge on Aug. 12 to discuss a possible plea deal. However, the hearing was vacated and has not been rescheduled as of press time.

Court records show Ross is out of custody pending the outcome of his case.