PORTLAND, Tenn. (WKRN) — Portland Police have arrested a man from Mexico, charging him with multiple counts of child rape.
The girl, now 9-years-old, told police that the sexual assaults began when she was around 6-years-old. Police tell News 2 that the man and the victim knew each other.
Lieutenant Jason Arnold of Portland Police Department told News 2 that the child told her mother, who then got police involved.
The mother reportedly does not speak English but the child does. It took bilingual translators to help get the case to the point where officers could arrest the suspect, 30-year-old Juan Garcia Gomez, on Thursday morning.
Lt. Arnold said speed was of the essence for community safety and because Gomez was considered a flight risk.
“It was 100 percent a priority. He would just keep doing it. If it wasn’t this little girl, it would have been someone else,” said Lt. Arnold.
Gomez was arrested at a Portland gas station two blocks from the police station, and was charged with four counts of rape of a child.
“It’s awful to hear these stories of what these kids went through, they are brave enough to go through the process of what we have to put them through to get the story of what happened, to get the truth,” said Lt. Arnold.
Police said Gomez confessed to the crime.
“He admitted certain acts with the child. He accepted responsibility for what he did,” said Lt. Arnold.
Investigators say Gomez had no Tennessee license or any documentation from the USA, but that he did have a Mexican passport.
There are no entries in the passport and police tell News 2 it is unclear when and where Gomez entered the country. They are also not 100 percent sure of his identity, though he is now entered into the Sumner County Jail under the name on his passport. They believe for the last several years he had existed without an ID flying below the radar.
“A lot of times we have to move quickly on these cases, especially with those not here legally because they could assume another identity and they could disappear. And we have no idea who they were, who they are, or who they will be in the next area they go to,” said Lt. Arnold.
Police say Gomez worked at a Portland meat company, paperwork from that company was discovered in the man’s front seat. The letter was about safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He flew under the radar for so long, committed no other crimes that we know of,” said Lt. Arnold.
Now that they’ve taken this alleged sexual predator off the street, Portland Police say they plan to reach out to I.C.E. regarding the man’s history.
Portland Police would like to thank both Gallatin Police and the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office whose bilingual officers helped interview victims and suspects on their off time to help rapidly close this important case.
Portland Police have no reason to believe there are other victims at this time. If you have any other information, you are urged to contact the Portland Police Department.