A man who was identified by a Lancaster County judge on Tuesday as having attended a protest Monday while unmasked and positive for COVID-19, did not have the virus, a community organization said Friday night.
In a strongly-worded statement, Lancaster Stands Up said that Julio V. Torres, 22, of East Lampeter Township, had explained to District Judge Scott Albert “that his COVID diagnosis was from weeks before and that he had self-quarantined for three weeks prior to going out in public.”
Torres had appeared before Albert in a video arraignment after Lancaster city police charged him with riot, aggravated assault on police, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. City police said he threw objects at them and threw a barricade into the street.
According to Lancaster Stands Up's statement, “Judge Albert, according to Mr. Torres, kept insisting on the words 'you have COVID,' to which Mr. Torres countered, 'I had COVID.'"
A message left with Albert's staff Friday concerning the issue was not returned. President Judge David Ashworth notified the media Tuesday about Torres; a message left with him Friday night wasn't immediately returned.
The statement from Lancaster Stands Up said Torres did have a positive COVID test on May 7, but that he self-quarantined for three weeks. At the end of the quarantine he said he was cleared to go back in public.
Upon his release on bail from prison Wednesday, Torres went for another COVID test, which came back negative on Friday, according to Lancaster Stands Up.
“It seems that this young man acted responsibly at every step in the process, but the court’s lack of clarity was tantamount to slander here,” Lancaster City Council President Ismail Smith-Wade-El said in the statement. “He deserves a public apology.”
The statement included links to an image on a cellphone showing a negative COVID test results.
Torres has also now been charged with robbing a man a year ago outside an East Lampeter Township restaurant.
East Lampeter police said he robbed a Greenfield Inn employee around 11 p.m. on June 7, 2019.
The victim, a 23-year-old man, had left the restaurant to find Torres inside his car and confronted him, police said. Torres punched and choked the man and gouged his eye, then ran away, police said.
The victim's bloodied shirt was sent to a lab, where DNA was extracted and indicated Torres as a possible lead, police said. Torres lives about 500 feet from the restaurant, police said.
East Lampeter police said they charged Torres with one count of robbery after interviewing him Wednesday at the prison.