Patricio Gonzalez of Palm Beach, Florida was arrested Tuesday after his arrival at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on suspicion of sexual battery and lewd lascivious behavior on a minor.
Gonzalez was briefly held at Broward County jail in Fort Lauderdale before being transferred by the Broward Sheriff’s Office to a detention center in Palm Beach County. It is unclear whether he hired legal representation or qualified for bail.
Gonzalez, 55, is a citizen of Ecuador but he has a Palm Beach Gardens address, sources state. When questioned by the press on the arrest, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs & Border Protections reportedly said an outstanding warrant for Gonzalez was discovered by customs agents during the inspection process. The agents took Gonzalez into custody and handed him over to police officers from Broward Sheriff’s Office, news reports indicate.
Jail records show Gonzalez is facing two counts of sexual battery on a minor younger than 18 but older than 13, as well as two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior on a minor older than 12 years but younger than 16. Gonzalez is scheduled to make his first court appearance this morning, sources report. Details of the incident that led to Gonzalez’s arrest are not currently available.
Sexual crimes can take many forms. Earlier this month, David Mace of Palm Beach, Florida was arrested for allegedly sexually molesting a 7-year-old girl four years ago. Mace, 37, also faces 99 counts of possession of child pornography in addition to the sexual molestation charge. Like Gonzalez, Mace was moved to the main detention center in Palm Beach County.
Child sexual abuse is a big problem in the U.S. According to a studies published by the Crimes Against Children Research Center, 1 in 20 boys and 1 in 5 girls is a victim of sexual abuse. Children are most vulnerable between ages of 7 and 13, according to statistics. One of the center’s studies showed that over the course of their lifetime, 28% of youth in the U.S. aged 14 to 17 had been sexually abused in some form.