DA's office refuses to prosecute local sex crime case

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By Carol A. Clark

The District Attorney’s Office has declined to prosecute Joongdae Cha, whom Los Alamos Police charged Aug. 22 with eight felony sex crimes involving a female child under 13 a Los Alamos Police Department spokesperson said.

Cha is charged with four counts of criminal sexual penetration with a minor under the age of 13, each count a first-degree felony. He also is charged with four counts of criminal sexual contact with a minor under the age of 13, each of which are second-degree felonies.

“This is a disappointing situation,” said LAPD Det. Shari Mills who lead the Cha investigation. “I wish the DA’s office would have at least granted an enlargement of the 10-day time limit to allow them more time to prepare their case. We’ve sent other cases to the DA’s office and I’m hoping they’ll convene a grand jury on those.”

Calls to Chief Deputy District Attorney Shari Weinstein in the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Santa Fe were not returned.

Cha, 48, managed Lemon Grass Restaurant in Central Park Square and had been living in White Rock at the time of his arrest. After placing him in jail, Mills contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and found he was in the United States illegally.

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