QCOSTARICA – Six students of the El Higuerón school, in Upala, Alajuela, reported being sexually abused by the school’s principal, a 47 year old man identified by his last name Somarribas, arrested on Wednesday by the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ).

However, by Thursday afternoon, the man was free and without any restrictions, due to a failure by the prosecutor failing to present an injunctive proceeding within 24 hours, as prescribed by law.

This is stipulated in Article 235 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Código Procesal Penal), which states that if the prosecutor wants preventive detention, the injunction has to be presented within 24 hours of arrest.

Miguel Carranza, local prosecutor, said the problem is that the time started when the OIJ officials asked, at the school, for Somarribas to accompany them and not the arrival, 30 minutes later, at the Fiscalia (prosecutor’s office) where he was arrested.

Moving on. The man, who has been principal at the school since 2013, was arrested after one of the fifth grade students – an 11 year old girl, accompanied by her parents, filed the complaint that the director had touched her private parts.

Between the Wednesday afternoon detention and Thursday noon, five more complaints of sexual abuse were filed against the man.

Apparently, the alleged abuses had taken place a year earlier – when the girls where 10 years old – but were intimidated by the principal to file a complaint at the time.

This is not the first time Somarribas has been accused of sexual abuse.

In 2002, the man was acquitted by a Cuidad Quesada (San Carlos, Alajuela) court on similar accusations.

The OIJ said it is continuing its investigation to determine if there are more cases of sexual abuses involving Somarribas. Meanwhile, the regional office of the Ministry of Education as yet to make a statement on the case.


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