Man living with girl faces assault charge
A Basalt man was arrested Tuesday night on a charge of having sex with the 13-year-old girl he lived with.Jose Roberto Pena-Gonzales, 18, is charged with felony sexual assault on a child. He was allegedly living with the girl, who is six weeks pregnant with his child, in the midvalley home of the girl’s mother. The woman told police she knew about the relationship.”She states [that] she lets him stay because he provides financially and she does not want him to take her daughter away,” says a statement from an Eagle County child protection caseworker. It is included in the arrest warrant.Pena-Gonzales, who moved here from San Jose, Calif., about three months ago, was advised of the charge against him Wednesday.Aspen police Sgt. Linda Consuegra interpreted for the suspect at yesterday’s brief hearing. She told Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely that she had read the complaint against Pena-Gonzales to him because he did not feel comfortable reading it himself. She told the court that he has a sixth-grade education.Pena-Gonzales is originally from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has placed a hold on him. He was given a $15,000 bond, but the immigration hold means that if he did post bond, he would be immediately deported. Regardless of the outcome of his trial, he will be deported back to Mexico.After the hearing, Consuegra said Pena-Gonzales did not know he was breaking the law.”He didn’t see it coming,” she said of his arrest. He told her that he was from the countryside outside Puerto Vallarta.”In the countryside [such relationships are] common,” Consuegra said. “You can see that even in the states: The further you get away, the more odds things can happen.”Pitkin County sheriff’s Investigator Bruce Benjamin said Pena-Gonzales worked as a caregiver to an elderly man. He said it’s immaterial that the girl and her mother welcomed the suspect into their home.”When you’re talking about the protection of a child, you don’t really deal with the term ‘consensual,'” Benjamin said. “In this particular case, it would be a higher-class felony if a threat or force was used. That is not alleged here.”The relationship first came to the caseworker’s attention on April 25. The girl had gone to an Eagle County medical office in El Jebel for prenatal care. She told the caseworker whom the father is and said that “Jose lives in her home with the consent of her mother and they sleep in the same bedroom.”The caseworker e-mailed Benjamin the same day. A public health nurse at the office also e-mailed him, according to the arrest warrant.”The father of the baby, Jose Roberto Pena-Gonzales, admitted to me that he was the father of the baby,” the nurse wrote to Benjamin.Fernandez-Ely issued a mandatory protection order that forbids him from having any contact with the victim.The warrant also says the girl was the victim of a sexual assault in October 2004. The suspect in that case remains at large.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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