Woman accused of sexually battering sister faces judge

MIAMI (WSVN) - A foreign exchange student accused of sexually battering her 14-year-old sister faced a judge, Thursday.

According to police, 21-year-old Marta San Jose, a foreign exchange student from Spain, and her late husband, 50-year-old Dale Leary, performed sex acts with San Jose’s 14-year-old sister.

On July 4, police responded to an attempted murder-suicide at their Cutler Bay home involving Leary and his ex-wife, Claudia.

A hose was found near the car, which police believe, was connected to its exhaust pipe in order to pump carbon monoxide into the vehicle. Leary died at the scene while his ex-wife survived and was transported to a nearby hospital.

Claudia has not been charged by police.

About five years ago, San Jose was brought to South Florida on a foreign exchange program to stay with Leary and his then-wife. Leary later divorced his wife to marry San Jose. The couple then invited San Jose’s sister to live with them, and that’s when, officials said, the alleged abuse occurred.

All four people lived in the same house.

San Jose and Leary were arrested for sexual abuse of the 14-year-old in June.

During a hearing Thursday, the State wanted Claudia Leary kept away from San Jose. “It’s commonly done in co-defendant cases. Just because Ms. Leary hasn’t been charged doesn’t mean she’s not under investigation at this point,” said a prosecutor.

The State claims that Claudia has paid legal fees for San Jose. The judge is now only allowing communication through an attorney.

San Jose’s attorney said there was only one abuser: Dale Leary.

“She was brought here at the age of 16,” said defense attorney Javier Viera. “She came here alone as a foreign exchange student to a country she didn’t know, didn’t know the language, didn’t have friends here and was manipulated at such a young age by this Dale Leary. The evidence the prosecutor has, I believe, will demonstrate that she is the victim in this case.”

San Jose’s mother was in court Thursday morning but did not comment on the case.

This case has gotten the attention of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system, and they have taken steps to ask the federal government for a more thorough screening process when it comes to host families in foreign exchange programs.

“It is both horrifying and a sad realization,” said Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “Hundreds of students that come into this country expecting to benefit from great education, in fact, become vulnerable to horrific potential abuse at the hands of the host families.”

The State was expected to file formal charges against San Jose, but the hearing has since been rescheduled for July 27.

San Jose remains in jail.

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