On Tuesday September 17, 2019, 28-year-old Pittsburgh Pirates’ player Felipe Vázquez was arrested and charged with one count of computer pornography-solicitation of a child and one count of providing obscene material to minors, according to a statement released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The arrests came after agents obtained information that Vázquez was allegedly involved in a “sexual relationship” with a then thirteen-year-old residing in Lee County. The statement reports that the victim, now fifteen-years-old, has allegedly continued to receive text messages and videos from Vázquez, including one that purportedly depicts him performing a sexual act. The texts also allegedly reveal Vázquez suggested the two should meet for sex after his baseball season was over. As a result of the investigation, Vázquez was taken into custody in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Further charges are possible pending the completion of a search electronic devices seized at the time of Vázquez’s arrest.
According to media reports, Vázquez was further charged with three felonies in Pennsylvania. The felonies include statutory sexual assault of a minor 11 years or older, unlawful contact with a minor, and corruption of minors. Vázquez also was charged with a misdemeanor count of indecent assault of a person less than 16 years of age.
The Pennsylvania charges are a result of an alleged assault on a teenage girl in 2017 outside of her home in Scottdale, Pennsylvania. Vázquez allegedly admitted to having sexual contact with the girl who was thirteen-years-old at the time. Vázquez allegedly further acknowledged that he knew the girl to be young. The complaint indicates “the accused advised the Victim looked too young and that she appeared to be 16 years of age or younger.” Vázquez’s most recent alleged contact with the victim was a message in July 2019.
Vázquez was denied bail and is currently being held in the Westmoreland County Prison. He faces extradition to Florida. Vázquez was also placed on administrative leave from Major League Baseball. The president of the Pirates, Frank Coonelly, said “we take this matter, and these charges in particular, extremely seriously.”
The CSE Institute supports the prosecution of those who sexually exploit minors and is encouraged by the collaboration between Florida and Pennsylvania law enforcement in this investigation and arrest. The CSE institute urges the media to stop labeling sexual contact between adults and minors as “sexual relationships.” This protects the perpetrators and shifts blame onto their victims. Children, including the teenage victims of Felipe Vazquez, are unable to consent to sex. Therefore, any sexual contact involving minors is child abuse and rape, and the media should label it accordingly. Those that exploit minors commit crimes against the most vulnerable. It is important that child victims are protected by the prosecution of these offenders and that their stories are accurately reflected in the media.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or Villanova University.