OTTAWA — An Ottawa man charged with two counts of rape, a first-degree felony, was denied a new lawyer by Putnam County District Court Judge Keith Schirlo at a hearing Thursday afternoon.

Brian Gonzalez, 33, who speaks only Spanish, asked Schierl through interpreter Suzanne Navarrete if a Spanish-speaking attorney could be assigned to his case because he and his attorney, John Hopkins, had difficulty communicating.

Shirloch said there are no Spanish-speaking attorneys he knows of in the area, but Hopkins will check to see if there are any Spanish-speaking public defenders in the state who can represent Gonzalez.

Hopkins said he understands Gonzalez’s request because when they meet in person with an interpreter, they can speak freely, but he can’t call his client or have conversations that aren’t scheduled in advance, as he can with other clients.

Gonzalez is accused of engaging in sexual conduct with a 24-year-old woman who was under the influence of alcohol on August 7, 2021. According to the indictment, the woman asked Gonzalez to stop, but he continued to “violently engage in sexual conduct” with her.

Shirloch said he will meet with state and defense officials to schedule additional pretrial hearings to allow for more open communication between Gonzalez and Hopkins with an interpreter present. He said appointing a new attorney who does not speak Spanish would cause the case to “drag out” even longer.

Gonzalez’s next court appearance is scheduled for October 24 at 10 a.m