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Thursday, May 13, 2010
ICE Will Seek To Deport Alleged Rapist
By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Copyright © 2010 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer
Immigration authorities say they were never notified of two earlier incidents in which an illegal immigrant was accused of sexually assaulting young children.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said Tuesday that Juan Gonzalez, 20, described by authorities as a Mexican national living here illegally, has been placed on an "immigration hold" at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center.
Gonzalez was arrested May 4 after a 6-year-old girl's mother called police. The girl said Gonzalez assaulted her in the children's play area at the New Mexico Sports and Wellness gym at 4100 Prospect NE.
He is charged with criminal sexual penetration of a minor under 13 years old, kidnapping and tampering with evidence, because he allegedly took a shower after the incident.
"Once the state is done with him, instead of being released, he will be turned over to the custody of ICE, who will put him in removal proceedings and start the deportation process," Zamarripa said.
Gonzalez has been accused of sex crimes before, but the cases never went to trial. In one case, the victim couldn't be located and in the other he was determined to be incompetent.
Gonzalez was not yet 18 years old in at least one of the earlier incidents, and Zamarripa said ICE didn't know about the earlier allegations.
She said ICE agents check the immigration status of adult inmates jailed throughout the state, but it's a different story for juveniles. Zamarripa said immigrants younger than 18 who are accused of crimes are brought to ICE's attention only when notified by the juvenile agency involved.
When an arrested juvenile is found to be in the country illegally, the Bernalillo County Youth Services Center turns that information over to the state Children, Youth and Families Department, center director Tom Swisstack said.
CYFD spokeswoman Romaine Serna said CYFD does not contact ICE in such situations.
"If we have information that a child in our custody is here without papers or the proper documentation, it's not our practice to call ICE," Serna said. "Our goal is to provide services and rehabilitate the youth, and we have not been calling ICE as part of that process at this point."
Authorities said Gonzalez's mother works as a janitor at the gym where the most recent incident occurred and Gonzalez has a membership there.
In 2008, Gonzalez was accused of molesting a 4-year-old girl after the girl told her father that Gonzalez had touched her inappropriately, according to a police report. No charges were filed, though, because police couldn't locate the victim or her parents, Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office spokesman Pat Davis said.
In 2005, he faced charges of raping a 6-year-old boy and assaulting a 3-year-old girl. He was brought before a Bernalillo County Children's Court judge, but the charges were dismissed when Gonzalez was found not competent to stand trial. The results of a competency evaluation were not included in the court file.
According to a police report on the incident with the boy, Gonzalez's mother told police she thought it was "weird" that her son only liked to play with small children and had taken precautions to keep him away from them.
Gonzalez graduated from Highland High School and was enrolled at Central New Mexico Community College, said Albuquerque public safety spokesman T.J. Wilham.
JoAnna Masloski, vice president of marketing at Wellbridge Inc., Sports & Wellness's parent company, said Sports and Wellness staff "have, and will continue to, fully cooperate with the authorities regarding this investigation, however we cannot provide any further detail at this time."