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Charlotte Observer: Accused Rapist Had Been Turned Over To Immigration Authorities

Juan Martinez Hernandez

' ', false_format=>' ' --> Juan Martinez Hernandez A 35-year-old south Charlotte man has been charged with statutory rape after a 14-year-old girl gave birth to his child this weekend, according to police. Jail officials say Juan Martinez Hernandez, who is believed to be in the country illegally, has run afoul of police and immigration agents before, following a 2010 drunken driving arrest. It's unclear what became of Hernandez between his release to immigration agents in 2010 and the rape charges on Sunday. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials couldn't be reached for comment Monday. On Sunday, the 14-year-old gave birth to a baby in the bathroom of an apartment off Mont Carmel Lane near East Arrowood Road. Her family called 911, and the responding paramedics asked police for assistance. The girl told police the baby's father was a man who lived in the neighborhood, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police found and interviewed Juan Martinez Hernandez. Hernandez "admitted to engaging in sexual intercourse with the victim on several occasions," according to a police report. Hernandez was charged with four counts of statutory rape and two counts of indecent liberties with a child. He is in jail at the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office under a $250,000 bond. His first court appearance is this afternoon. Jail officials suspect Hernandez is in the country illegally, said Julia Rush, a spokeswoman for the Mecklenburg Sheriff's Office. They've placed an immigration hold on him, but federal officials will make the final determination about his immigration status. In July 2010, Hernandez was charged with driving while impaired, speeding, reckless driving and having no operator's license and booked into Mecklenburg jail. According to jail records, an immigration hold was placed on him, but he was released about two weeks later. Sheriff's spokeswoman Rush said he was processed through the 287g program then. The program, which has been used at the Mecklenburg jail since 2006, allows jailers to identify suspected illegal immigrants and begin deportation proceedings. A state judge unsecured his bond in 2010, Rush said. That means Hernandez would have been freed from jail until his court date. But because of his status, he was released to immigration officials. It's unclear what happened after that. The immigration agency didn't return calls from the Observer. As officials tried to sort out what became of Hernandez, rumors of the rape charges quickly spread throughout the apartment complex where he lives. Carrie Frazier, who lives near Hernandez, said she was waiting for her ride to church on Sunday morning when another neighbor told her a girl had given birth in a bathroom. Frazier, 86, said she'd never met Hernandez but believes he lived in an apartment with family members. She'd never noticed anything suspicious going on at his apartment, she said. No one answered a phone number listed for Hernandez. Officer Jessica Lawrence, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police spokeswoman, said investigators aren't sure how Hernandez came in contact with the victim. Police also haven't said why no one called officers when the girl showed signs of pregnancy. Staff researcher Maria David and WCNC-TV contributed. Copyright 2012 The Charlotte Observer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.