Cover Story: Illegal immigrant - rape charge

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A man living in this country illegally is charged with raping two young girls.

Ricardo Velasquez, 40, is accused of raping a 7-year-old and 8-year-old, Sunday night.  The children were rushed to the hospital.

Velasquez was taken to jail.  And it's not the first time this illegal immigrant has been arrested, not even the second.  His rap sheet dates back years.

Police have know about him since at least 2004 when he was first arrested.

It's cases like this that make peoples' blood boil and throw gasoline on the debate over immigration.

How was it learned that Velasquez was here illegally?  When he booked into jail for these two rapes.

The police report doesn't carry much information, but what it does have makes you sick.  Victim age 7 - female.  A second victim:  Age 8 - female

The charges:  Statutory Rape.  Forcible Fondling.  Aggravated Assault.

"What I've read about the crime he committed is pretty heinous."  It was Mecklenburg sheriff Chipp Bailey's department that discovered Velasquez shouldn't have been here in the first place.

Velasquez's first run in with the law in Mecklenburg county came in 2004.  He was charged with these crimes:  Assault on a female.  Breaking and entering.  And interfering with emergency communication.  It was only the hanging up on 911 charge he was convicted of.  Velasquez served no prison time.

In 2007 Velasquez was charged with DWI and reckless driving.  Again he served no time and was given one year unsupervised probation.

It was at that point Ricardo Velasquez' status of being able to be in the U.S. legally was revoked.

But instead of leaving the country and flying back to Ecuador like he was supposed to, he didn't.

Who should be blamed that this happened?  "This is probably a good example of bureaucracy," says Sheriff Bailey.

Because Velasquez was convicted in state court the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) apparently didn't get together to get Velasquez deported.

The sheriff doesn't blame ICE.  It's a good example many believe of why the issue of immigration needs to be settled - either all-out enforcement or reform it.  Now it's neither.

Says Bailey, "In an ideal world when he was convicted of the DWI and put on probation and ICE took him out of that status.. if they had had enough people then in an ideal world they would have picked him up and they would have put him into deportation."

But that didn't happen.  And now Velasquez is in jail.   And two little girls ages 7 and 8 whose injuries were severe enough they had to be taken to the hospital will live with the trauma forever.

Will this incident ignite animosity toward immigrants?  Community activist Hector Vaca hopes it doesn't.  "If that person committed a crime then that person should be punished. You should not punish a whole population for what one person did. Same as you stole a car.. all Americans should not be punished for you stealing a car.. that's not fair."

Police say Velasquez was related to the girls.  They say the incident happened Sunday night at an apartment in south Charlotte off of Sharon Road West.

The suspect remains in jail and apparently won't be going anywhere anytime soon.  He's under a 200-thousand dollar bond.

Copyright 2010 WBTV. All rights reserved.