On February 25, 1988, television actor Tracy Scoggins reported being attacked in an El Paso Marriott hotel. Scoggins was in El Paso co-hosting the Miss USA Pageant. According to the AP, Scoggins “suffered bruises in the attack.” The AP reported that Antonio Garcia was arrested and released on $100 bail set by associate magistrate judge Rodolfo Romero.

Scoggins, upon learning of the low bail amount set for Garcia, told the AP that the low bail amount says to her “that a man like this can save himself a whole expensive night of dinner and dancing and just pay $100 to assault the woman of his choice”. She added, “that’s a pretty good deal.” [Holden Lewis, “Miss USA Pageant Host Assaulted in Elevator,” AP News, February 26, 1988]

El Paso Police Lt. J.R. Grijalva told the El Paso Times, “in my 13 1/2 years as a police officer, this by far is the lowest amount of bond I’ve seen on a felony, especially a felony involving physical violence.”

The following day, state judge Brunson Moore raised the bond to $100,000. Moore told the El Paso Times that the low bond amount was “the most disgusting thing in the world.” When El Paso sheriff’s deputies arrived at the house that Garcia told him he lived in to re-arrest him under the new bond, they discovered he had lied about where he lived. [Amber Smith, et al., “Pageant co-host attacked at hotel,” El Paso Times, February 27, 1988]

But his address wasn’t the only thing that Antonio Garcia had lied about.

Garcia’s real name was Pedro Concepcion Padilla. He lied about his name.

But Padilla’s name and address were not the only problems with the case. It turns out that the associate magistrate, Rodolfo Romero who set the low bond, and Pedro Padilla were good friends. The El Paso Times reported that a friend of the two, who wished to remain anonymous told the newspaper that Romero and Padilla “have known each other” for at least 18 years.

After learning of the allegations of friendship between the judge and the suspect, the El Paso Police Department opened an investigation and Rodolfo Romero was suspended from the bench. Chief Municipal Judge Robert Duran also opened an investigation into Romero’s actions. [Robert Moore, “Judge, suspect might be friends,” El Paso Times, March 1, 1988]

The El Paso Times reported that a grand jury investigation cleared the three men involved in the bond setting fiasco. An Assistant City Attorney, Enrique Medrano, had resigned in March. Medrano, Rodolfo Romero and Padilla were cleared by the grand jury of tampering with government records. Medrano was the individual that paid the $100 bond for Padilla so that he could be released from jail. [Berta Rodriguez, “Indictment in Scoggins case still possible,” El Paso Times, April 15, 1988]

On August 25, 1988, an El Paso grand jury reduced the felony charge down to a Class C misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a $200 fine. [Berta Rodriguez, “Lawyer asks for hearing in 1-year-old Scoggins case,” El Paso Times, February 2, 1989]

In February 1989, the Class C misdemeanor charge against Padilla was dropped by El Paso officials after Scoggins refused to come to El Paso to testify against Padilla. Scoggins told the El Paso prosecutors that she would not come to El Paso to testify because it “was only a misdemeanor”.

After the charges were dropped, Pedro Concepcion Padilla filed a $20 million lawsuit against Tracy Scoggins and the hotel, alleging “false and malicious statements”.

Then on March 8, 1989, Tracy Scoggins filed a federal $4.5 million lawsuit against Padilla and Padilla’s lawyer, Jose Montes, alleging they slandered Scoggins. [Diana Washington, “Actress sues over alleged assault,” El Paso Times, March 9, 1989]

In 1993, the El Paso Times reported that El Paso Police Sgt. Jeffrey Dove said that Scoggins failed to meet with the police officer on March 1, 1988 to complete her complaint against Padilla. The police officer stated to the newspaper that the evidence showed that the incident was “(simple) assault, not a sexual assault.” The officer added that “you have to have intent (to rape)” for it to be a sexual assault.

The paper reported that the medical exam of Scoggins “found bruising”. Padilla told the paper that he “admits grabbing her to shove her out of the way while trying to get away from the hotel guests who were chasing him.”

According to the news report, Padilla first encountered Scoggins on Interstate 10 when Scoggins “cut him off”. Padilla told the paper that he followed her and that at a red light on Gateway East and Hawkins he “jumped out and confronted her,” yelling, “who the hell do you think you are, you bitch?”

Padilla added that Scoggins asked him to follow her to the hotel where both got on the elevator.

Padilla told the newspaper that “he gave officers a phony name because he didn’t want his ill mother to find out he had been arrested.”

However, Padilla couldn’t explain to the reporter why Enrique Medrano, the former assistant city attorney allowed him to continue using a fake name while bailing him out of jail or why Rodolfo Romero, the associate municipal judge set such a low bail amount. Padilla told the paper that both were his friends.

The lawsuits were settled on June 1, 1993. All the parties to the lawsuit have refused to reveal the terms of the lawsuit settlement. [Gordon Dickerson, “Padilla says unspilled food proves innocence,” El Paso Times, June 20, 1993]

In an interview by Tamara Holly in 2003, Tracy Scoggins said that she spent “about $80K on attorney’s fees” while refusing to pay to settle the case. Scoggins says she told her attorney that she will “send all of your children to law school” before she paid any money to Padilla”. Scoggins added that “justice somehow found the truth” when she let them dismiss the lawsuit. [Tamara Holly interview, Atlanta, Georgia, 2003]

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...