Brittany Tom | NBC News Dateline

Editor’s note: The People v. Flores murder trial is covered each day by Mustang News. Follow @CPMustangNews on Twitter and Instagram for more updates. Read previous articles about the trial here.

Content warning: This article includes details of sexual assault.

In 2008, a woman was reportedly raped by a man as she went in and out of consciousness.

During the assault, she said he asked if she knew his name. She didn’t at the time.

“He seemed satisfied I didn’t know,” she said.

In 2021, the woman learned his name.

Amid the 2021 arrests of Paul Flores and his father, Ruben Flores, in the Kristin Smart murder case, the woman, referred to by the court as Rhonda Doe, said she had seen Paul Flores’ photo in a news story, and recognized him as the man who raped her.

Doe said she was in disbelief, unable to breathe at first. She reported the rape to law enforcement.

On Wednesday, Doe testified at the Flores trial held in Monterey County.

The prosecution has argued that Paul Flores killed Smart in his dorm room while raping or attempting to rape her when they were freshmen at Cal Poly 26 years ago. The defense has said Flores helped walk Smart home after an off-campus party, but they parted ways before she reached her dorm. Smart was reported missing, and Flores was the last person known to have seen her.

https://mustangnews.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/AUDIO_6184.m4a
Listen to a three-minute KCPR recap of Wednesday’s hearing. Nico Vinuela | KCPR

Rhonda Doe testified that she met Paul Flores outside a bar in Redondo Beach in 2008.

Doe, 31 at the time, went to the bar with three friends, one of which invited a passerby, Flores, who was on a bike outside the bar to instead join them at Doe’s home. 

At first glance, Doe described Flores as an average man about the age of she and her friends.

Flores told them he had to get something from his place, inviting only Doe to join him.

When walking to Flores’ house, Doe said she “was very alert at that time.” 

“He was acting normal, being polite,” Doe said of their walk to his house. “There was nothing that stood out on it at all.” 

At his home, Doe said Flores gave her a glass of water, but she had not seen the water being poured. Flores then proceeded to give her a tour, which Doe did not recall the specific details of.

The next memory Doe had was Paul Flores on top of her, engaging in sexual intercourse that she had no memory of consenting to.

“I would have never consented to that, ever,” Doe said.

She said at some parts she was face down with a black and red-striped ball gag in her mouth, but does not remember anything after Flores inserted the ball gag.

Her next memory was curling up to the side of the bed, crying. Doe said she felt pain for two days after the rape.

After the incident, Flores had tried to contact Doe — calling her twice and leaving her two voicemails. Doe did not respond.

Doe didn’t report the incident right away because “rape cases don’t usually get tried,” she said.

Doe was also a Cal Poly student at the time, dropping out in 1996 and living in Grover Beach until 1997. Doe was aware of the publicity of the Smart case, and upon reporting the rape, told law enforcement that she also attended Cal Poly. 

Investigator JT Camp corroborates details of Rhonda Doe’s testimony

Investigator James “JT” Camp said on Wednesday that the location of the Redondo Beach bar and Paul Flores’ house aligned with Doe’s memory.

In 2021, Camp showed Doe six photos of different men that roughly followed the description of Flores. According to Camp, Doe was “fairly quick” to identify Flores’ picture. Even though Doe “wouldn’t bet [her] life on it,” she said she was certain the man in that picture was Paul Flores, and that he was the man who raped her.

“There is something in his eyes that is ingrained that leads me to certainty,” Doe said. “Something I did not forget.” 

During cross examination Wednesday, Camp was also asked about the potential routes Smart could have taken after she, according to the defense, parted from Flores to walk back to her dorm alone.

On July 1 of this year, Camp revisited the campus and used a roller tape to take measurements. He evaluated three realistic routes Smart could have taken.

“I was looking for measurements of the two main dorms in question,” Camp said. 

Camp also established that there are two potential routes to get to 710 White Court in Arroyo Grande — Ruben Flores’ home. From Paul’s dorm, Santa Lucia Hall, it’s about 12.25 miles away. 

One of the routes involves following US Highway 101, while another is a more rural, “zigzag” path on Highway 227, Camp said.

Camp drove both routes, documenting mileage, but not times due to change and “variance with the past 25, 26 years,” Camp said.

Taking Highway 101, Camp said it’s about a 14.1 mile drive. Meanwhile, the more rural path requires less mileage at 13.9 miles. 

Cross examinations in the trial continued Thursday morning.