Man who allegedly raped girl threatens her with illegal statusWORTHINGTON — A Worthington man who allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl used the threat of reporting her illegal family to the authorities to keep her quiet about the assault, a recently filed complaint indicates.
By: Justine Wettschreck, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — A Worthington man who allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl used the threat of reporting her illegal family to the authorities to keep her quiet about the assault, a recently filed complaint indicates.
A woman reported her daughter had been sexually assaulted by a man the family knew only as Melvin. He was later identified as Melvin Demetrio Cano-Romero, 24, of Worthington.
Cano-Romero is charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of terroristic threats.
According to the criminal complaint, the woman who reported the assault said she was afraid to come to the police with the information her daughter had been raped because they are in the country illegally.
The woman brought her daughter to speak with the authorities. She also brought a relative and the child’s step-father.
The girl said she had been sitting on the front porch in late July when “Melvin” grabbed her, wrapped his arms and legs around her and touched her inappropriately. He then told her not to tell anyone.
Earlier in July, the girl said, the same man had come into her bedroom late at night while she was sleeping with two small children.
He allegedly told her to keep quiet, removed her clothes and his own and forced her to have sex on the same bed where the two children were sleeping. The girl told an officer she had asked “Melvin” several times to stop and told him he was hurting her, but he continued.
Afterward, he allegedly told her not to say anything or he would kill her family. The girl said he put on his boxer shorts and left the room carrying his clothes. He contacted her the next day, she added, and told her if she said anything he would “talk to the law” and tell authorities she and her family are illegals.
The girl’s relative said she saw Cano-Romero hold onto the girl on the porch and that she was also instructed not to tell anyone what she saw. The relative said she is frightened of Cano-Romero.
The girl’s stepfather said he had listened in on a telephone conversation between the girl and Cano-Romero the previous evening, in which he allegedly told the girl he wanted to come over to her house and come back into her bedroom to have sex. He told her if he couldn’t get in that night, he would come another night, promising to shower, wear cologne and “smell good.”
After speaking with the family, the officer went to the 1400 block of Clary Street with another officer and located Cano-Romero.
Another officer brought the girl and her mother to the same place so they could identify “Melvin.” When the girl saw Cano-Romero, she reportedly pulled her hair over her face and put her head down, acting anxious and afraid. From the back of the squad car, both mother and daughter identified Cano-Romero as the man who had assaulted the girl.
The man identified himself as Cano-Romero using an El Salvador ID.
He was arrested and brought to the law enforcement center, where he gave a statement. He said he and the girl were just friends and denied having any kind of sexual contact with her.
Cano-Romero is currently in custody at the Nobles County Jail.
According to Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey, the family is not in danger of deportation for reporting the assault.
“Being the victim of a crime does not get you deported,” he stated Tuesday, explaining that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is more focused on dealing with illegal immigrants who commit crimes.
“This is the reality of the broken immigration system and what it does to people,” Cumiskey said. “People are being taken advantage of because of their status.”
Local law enforcement has no authority over immigration status unless the person in question has committed a crime, he added. If that is the case, ICE is contacted by the jail staff when someone is booked.