LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Saudi Arabia air force sergeant stood in shackles Wednesday in a Nevada courtroom and pleaded not guilty to abducting and raping a 13-year-old boy at a Las Vegas Strip hotel on New Year's Eve.
Through an Arabic language translator, Mazen Alotaibi, 23, acknowledged that he understood the nine felony charges that could put him in a Nevada prison for the rest of his life.
"But it's not right," he said through the interpreter.
Clark County District Court Judge Stefany Miley set a May 13 trial date on the charges: first-degree kidnapping, two counts of sexual assault with a minor under 14, four counts of lewdness with a child under 14, sexually-motivated coercion and burglary.
Coercion alleges Alotaibi forced the boy to do something he had a legal right not to do. Burglary in Nevada involves entering a building intending to commit a felony.
Alotaibi's lawyer, Don Chairez, said outside the courtroom that he's recommending to Saudi authorities that Alotaibi remain in custody at the Clark County jail, where he is being held on $1.72 million bail.
If a plea deal can be reached with prosecutors to avoid trial, the jail stay could be credited as time served, Chairez said.
Chairez told reporters he doesn't believe the boy's claims that he was forced into a room and raped early Dec. 31 at the Circus-Circus hotel-casino.
Chairez instead cast Alotaibi as the victim in a situation where he was severely drunk, didn't understand English and hadn't slept for many hours while traveling to Las Vegas and partying when he arrived.
For the first time, Chairez also alleged the boy stole Alotaibi's wallet and $200.
"A lot of this is going to hinge on the credibility of the boy," the defense attorney said. "We're going to expose this boy as a liar."