San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Tourist crimes

Costa Rica police arrest 4 suspects in alleged rape of US tourist

UPDATE, Wednesday, July 16, 2014:

Police released all four suspects later the same day due to a lack of evidence. Read the updated story here.

Original story continues here:

Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) on Tuesday arrested four men suspected of raping a 19-year-old U.S. woman in the tourist destination of La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano in the Northern Zone. Police are withholding the victim’s name.

An OIJ spokeswoman confirmed to The Tico Times that security cameras and witnesses identified the four men at a bar, El Establo, the last place the woman was seen before the rape allegedly occurred early Sunday morning. According to police, the four suspects – aged 27 to 35 – work in construction in La Fortuna. The OIJ spokeswoman added that the victim has not yet positively identified the suspects.

On Monday, police reported that the victim was traveling with a group of seven students and two supervisors from the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The group arrived in Costa Rica during the weekend of July 12 and planned to travel to La Fortuna, San José and Jacó. According to current information, the woman went to the bar with her companions on Saturday night but returned to the bar later, ostensibly alone, to look for a missing item. Previous reports noted that there were seven suspects.

The victim has filed a criminal complaint with the OIJ’s San Carlos office. The U.S. Embassy in San José would not comment specifically on the incident, but in cases of sexual assault, the embassy often accompanies and supports victims while they file police reports, obtain forensic testing and seek medical care. Embassy staff also follow up with local authorities to provide updates on a regular basis to victims after they leave the country, according to embassy spokeswoman Evelyn Ardón.

The Prosecutor’s Office acknowledged the arrests but said the office is waiting for a final report from the OIJ before requesting the suspects be held in preventive detention pending further investigation.

At this writing, the OIJ spokeswoman said the victim remains in Costa Rica.

Contact Zach Dyer at

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Mauren Gabriela Navarro-Castillo

I brought 20 students last summer from NMSU. My program was very successful. This news for sure will tarnish any attempt to bring students in future.. too bad for Costa Rica

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To Mauren

This story is very sad. Mauren your comments remind me of rightwing neo con types that never forgive and always want war. Anyways glad to see you will not be bring stupied people to our country anymore. Still a sad story and the justice ministry will sort this case out.

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So I went to NMSU’s phonebook and searched for you Mauren, you are not in their state U. as faculty or student.
I was curious as to what type of class you would be in, that only participates in a bubble.

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Mauren Gabriela Navarro-Castillo

Dear Puswakau I guess you check out the NMSU phonebook recently, and maybe you right, I am not anymore at NMSU. I am leaving now in Costa Rica. Anyway, to assume something as a true you should check out a little more. Today is very easy, everything is in the internet.. you just need to type my name and you will notice that there are so many links that mention my name. Anyway, I am a researcher it is easy for me. Before to affirm something about a fact I search a lot before. I guess you didn’t make your homework to mention that I was not part of the staff at NMSU.

I will help you a little.. follow me
Proof 1)

you can see my name as staff here

Proof 2) Here you can see my students in Costa Rica and the club I was mentioned ah! of course, myself as a persona in charge of the team.

Proof 3)


Dra. Navarro

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Colin Brownlee

Costa Rica has 2.4 million tourists a year. Yes, Mauren, this incident was awful… But if this us what it takes for you to stop taking students to developing countries on educational programs, you should have stopped long ago. Better yet… You should have never started.

I am not sure what your role is, but I would hate to think you were a teacher that pretending to educate young people about the real world we live in. Hope their future trip to Disney works well for you.

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Mauren Gabriela Navarro-Castillo

I am sorry, Colin Brownlee, for one or some incidents we cannot think that we need to stop these wonederful experiences. Or what to you propone? be in our countries like in a jail, no going anywhere anymore.
I leave you our let’s go Costa Rica blogger and you will see how much our students enjoied and learned from this experiences. I won’t never change thise experiencee for anything.
We need to take precautions for sure, but Costa Rica has so much good things to show and so nice people that it deserves our try.
You are welcome to see our blogger and our student’s comments about their experiences.

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Linneth Barbanera

Dear Mauren Gabriela Navarro-Castillo, can you go to LA NACION.COM and check the latest news…Sometimes, people judge people and countries….when they really don’t know the facts….Tell your students what really happened according to the news …If you are such a professional …talked about the BAD decisions that many foreigners made when they travel….Too ‘BAD for YOU” ….Let be HAPPY! COSTA RICA SE RESPETA! Nothing happens in USA!..MMMMMMMM……Think before you write!

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Mauren Gabriela Navarro-Castillo

Dear Linneth, You right, there are horrible things happenned around the globe and USA is not the exception, contrary I feel sorry for the USA new generations, are in a total chaos, no guide at all. But in the academia, we love to develop abroad projects for our students because it’s changes their world completely. The problem with this kind of news is that no matter we know worse things are happening in USA when we need to request authorization for our students to travel outside of USA this news doesn’t help at all. Exist that kind of psycho stress that pretend that everything is bad because once isolate case happened .. My point is, we have so many good things to show, so nice people that welcome our international students and so many for to show and teach to them that news like this creates a shadow of the rest of good things we have as a nation.
And yes, there are many many things we are doing very bad in Costa Rica, risk is growing in all areas. It is very sad as well.

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Catherine Moran

I just tried to find the so-called “real story” and there’s nothing about this story in La Nacion’s archives.

Also, you don’t get to blame the victim. No matter what choices she made that night, she didn’t ask to be violated in this way. Should people be more careful? Yes. You can always be more careful. But mistakes and bad decisions don’t mean that you are responsible for being attacked–the responsibility lies solely with the attackers, and if you can’t get behind that idea, then yes, people WILL judge you and rightfully so.

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