McCRACKEN COUNTY, KY (WPSD) – Leonel Vazquez pleaded guilty to sexually abusing an underage, developmentally delayed girl he did not know in a public place. He was first arrested on that charge in June. Now, we’re learning Vazqez, an illegal immigrant, was deported at least twice to Mexico before committing that crime.
I just found out it’s been more than twice. A spokesperson for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement emailed me just before the 6 p.m. newscast Tuesday to tell me he was “voluntary returned” to Mexico twice in 2000, then convicted of a DUI in 2004 in a Georgia court, then deported twice in 2014. We do not know what other charges he might have faced.
But the big concern for investigators, and the mother of the victim in this case, is that this shouldn’t have even happened. We’ve hidden her identity to protect the victim.
During their stay between moves, it was supposed to be a vacation for Brenda’s family. That vacation was short-lived.
Brenda says, “She ran and beat on the door. We opened the door. You could hear the panic in her voice.”
Vazquez was caught on tape sexually assaulting Brenda’s daughter.
“She said she dropped her money. She bent over to pick up her money, and that’s when he grabbed her,” Brenda says.
But it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Detective Sarah Martin says: “We found out he’s been deported two other times, so this will be his third time being deported after he’s sentenced.”
Now, Vazquez is in jail, facing five years in prison. But Martin says he may not have to face much prison time if any at all, because once the judge sentences Vazquez, the federal government at any point could deport him back to Mexico.
Brenda says she feels helpless, not being able to protect her daughter from him. She says she feels the system has failed her and her family. “I feel like its failed her, because she will remember. It’s not going to leave her memory.”
While she wants him to stay locked up, if given a chance, she told us this is what she’d say to him: “I pray that he gets help and turns his life around so that he doesn’t do this to anyone else.”
Martin says those convicted of sexual abuse crimes are required to go through some kind of therapy and register as a sex offender. She says if he gets deported, he won’t go through the required therapy, and there’s always the possibility he could come back under a different alias.
As for why he was in Kentucky, he was working on a job and staying at the hotel in the meantime. I’ve reached out to the company listed on the citation, but I haven’t heard back.
Vazquez will be sentenced Dec. 4. He pleaded guilty, accepting a plea deal to the maximum five years in prison.