In November, students at Ernie Pyle Middle School began sharing video of a man sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in a van outside a house party, according to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.
After a months-long investigation, BCSO detectives on Wednesday arrested the woman who they say took the video and shared it with several people on Snapchat.
The 22-year-old man seen on video performing a sexual act on the girl has been interviewed by detectives but has not been charged. The man told police he thought the girl was 19.
In New Mexico, an adult who has sex with someone ages 13 to 16 can be charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual penetration.
“The completed case will be sent to the District Attorney’s Office for review. I don’t have any other information to release,” BCSO spokeswoman Felicia Maggard said when asked about charges against the man. She said there have been no other arrests in the case.
The 13-year-old victim was also located, and she said she does not remember much due to being intoxicated and blacking out.
Maggard said the woman who has been charged in the case, 19-year-old Yarelis Cespedes, is facing second- and third-degree felony counts of manufacturing and distributing child pornography.
Albuquerque Public Schools spokeswoman Monica Armenta said the video surfaced after it was shared among students at Ernie Pyle Middle School. She said a student reported it to a teacher, and the student who shared it has been disciplined, but she would not say how.
“It is a great example of two things: one, the ubiquitous threat of social media, and the effectiveness of the ‘see something, say something’ campaign,” Armenta said.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, deputies responded to the school on Nov. 15 where a 13-year-old girl showed them the video of the girl – who appeared to be intoxicated – having sex with a man in the backseat of a van.
The girl who showed police the video told deputies she knew the girl in the video had been a student at Ernie Pyle but hadn’t seen her in awhile and believed she had transferred schools.
Deputies say they found the girl at another Albuquerque middle school where she had transferred due to “ongoing conflict with her peers.”
According to the complaint, the girl did not remember the actual sexual abuse because she had “blacked out.” But after seeing the video, she knew it happened Nov. 2,when she went out with her “ex-best friend,” later identified as Cespedes, to a club in Downtown Albuquerque and a house party.
Deputies say Cespedes and the girl went to Lotus Nightclub & VIP Ultralounge, where they met three men who gave them alcohol and offered cocaine. Shortly after, they went to a house party near Constitution and Wyoming NE.
The girl told deputies her “memory of the evening fades” once they got to the house party, except that someone shot a gun and Albuquerque police showed up.
It was the same house party where Stephen Goldman Jr., 20, and Jimmie Atkins, 23, allegedly robbed two young men at gunpoint and shot at one of them, according to Albuquerque police. Both Goldman and Atkins have been implicated by police in the kidnapping, torture and slaying of two teenagers over a drug deal a month later.
According to the complaint, the girl said Cespedes made several Snapchat videos throughout the night, and detectives searched her profile in January 2019.
Deputies say they found Cespedes had shared the video of the incident at least 10 times, with multiple users, alongside instructions to “expose her little friend” and discussing the girl’s young age.
Over a few months, detectives were able to identify the man and interviewed him early last month. After being confronted with the video, the man told deputies he “didn’t want that to happen” and tried to “forcibly stop it.” But detectives’ description of the video contradicts his statement.
He also said the night was a “blur” but recalled Cespedes and the girl telling him they were 19 when they met Downtown.
When detectives told the man the girl was only 13 years old “he became emotional and again denied having any knowledge of her age” before picking Cespedes out of a photo array as the woman who took and shared the video.