A former owner and operator of the Samarripas Center, which provides day care for the developmentally disabled, had his first case management conference in Superior Court since being indicted for sexually assaulting a 36-year-old client in his care.
The 52-year-old defendant was charged with sexual assault, sexual abuse and child/vulnerable adult abuse. Although the alleged victim is 36, Det. Brian Havey with the Gila County Sheriff's Office, said that, mentally, she is between the ages of 4 1/2 to 9 years old.
On July 10, the GCSO received a complaint from the mother of the alleged victim.
"Apparently the daughter told her mother that she had been raped -- she used the word ‘rape,'" GCSO Det. Brian Havey said. "We did an interview with the victim and she appeared to be very factual in what she was stating."
Deputies sent the victim's clothing items to a lab for DNA testing.
Havey said the alleged assault occurred at one of the suspect's homes in Star Valley.
"She described the home in detail -- the color, the bedspreads," Havey said. "We were able to gain enough information to type up a search warrant for the residence and the suspect."
The victim was taken to Payson Regional Medical Center.
"We do know through the medical exam that there was semen present in the victim," Havey said. "She also had some bruising on her breast."
The suspect was out of town, taking some clients to a camp in Pinetop when the complaint was made. When he returned three days later, Sheriff's deputies executed the search warrant.
"The search warrant was for the Star Valley residence and to take physical evidence from the suspect, which was a blood draw for DNA evidence," Havey said.
When the suspect was questioned by GCSO detectives, he reportedly told them that he did have sexual contact with the woman, but that he was the victim -- she had raped him.
"He ultimately confessed to having sexual contact with the victim, stating that she had forced him -- that she overpowered him," Havey said. "We are talking about a 270-pound male and a 126-pound female."
During the brief case management conference, the defendant sobbed uncontrollably while the Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill asked the attorneys about the status of the case.
The defendant's attorney, Harlan Green, told Cahill that they were in the discovery process and were awaiting documents they had subpoenaed from the Department of Economic Services.
County Attorney Daisy Flores said the state was in the process of researching whether there are other victims involved.
According to the GCSO, they are currently aware of one other alleged victim.
"We've interviewed one other victim, but she is currently at a level that we are not going to obtain enough information to find out exactly what happened," Havey said.
According to Havey, the other developmentally disabled victim was 13 at the time of the alleged incident and is now 15.
"It's long enough ago that she doesn't recall much. It appears to be mostly inappropriate touching," Havey said. "We are still looking into it."
"Letters have been sent out to all the families who have members that receive services from the Samarripas Center," Havey said. "for them to question their children and if they find anything, to come forward."
The center is a registered AHCCCS provider of day care and transportation of the developmentally disabled.
Liz Barker, director of the DES media office said the center has been contracted with the agency since May 2002 and is licensed to care for the disabled of all ages.