Owner of Charlotte educational program accused of sexually assaulting 7-year-old detained by ICE

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The operator of Charlotte educational program PlaySpanish accused of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl is being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to the sheriff's office.

Ricardo Mata was arrested Friday evening and charged with indecent liberties with a minor - lewd and lascivious.

Police say the victim's parents notified them on Feb. 12 that Mata had sexually assaulted their daughter, who was 7 years old at the time.

Ricardo Mata and Carmela Tondo-Mata started the PlaySpanish program 21 years ago, in January 1997. PlaySpanish is a Charlotte company that employs immigrants to teach preschoolers Spanish language and culture skills.

According to PlaySpanish's website, the program currently operates at First United Methodist Church Child Development Center, Myers Park Baptist Church Through-The-Week-School, Providence Baptist Church Weekday Education Ministry, Steele Creek Presbyterian Church Child Development Center, and Kids 'R' Kids -The Academy at Blakeney.

Last year, PlaySpanish, said it would be closed for a couple days because two of its teachers were harassed at police roadblocks, one in Charlotte and one in Gaston County, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Related: Charlotte Spanish language school claims immigrant harassment, says it may close

Mata said if the harassment continued, he and the staff will discuss the closing for good.

The program helps children in preschools, daycares, and private homes learn Spanish and Spanish culture.

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