Forensic expert says Vazquez victim likely not his first
The Pittsburgh Pirates player accused of having sex with a Lee County teenager isn’t heading to Florida anytime soon.
The Pennsylvania State police say Felipe Vazquez will be tried in their state first, where he now faces the most serious charges, including statutory sexual assault.
Investigators say they’re only aware of the relationship he had with the 13-year-old, but a local forensic expert says she believes there are more victims.
The arrest warrant; the police report; the mounting evidence mapped out in the case against the all-star pitcher.
“He’s grooming her. This is very common, how they do it. They share explicit photos, they give lots of compliments,” said forensic expert, Scott Johnson, in reference to descriptions of the crime provided by police.
“He’s acknowledging this, but he’s blaming the victim,” he said.
In the Pennsylvania report, Vazquez told investigators the 13-year-old girl got into his car and touched him through his pants, before he “advised the two of them then began to have sexual intercourse inside the vehicle.”
“That’s part of what they do,” said Johnson. “They empower the victim to take the first step so that they can say, ‘Oh, well, she was doing this to me and then that was consent and I couldn’t stop.'”
The teenager told investigators in Lee County the relationship started three years ago when she lived near Pittsburgh and continued after she moved to Florida, but she didn’t intend to reveal the relationship.
Her mother uncovered explicit pictures and a video from Vazquez and went to the sheriff’s office.
So critical to this case: the forensic investigator who convinced the victim to share her story.
“Most victims feel, number one, that it was a consenting love affair, that they felt they were actually in love with this person, and so we certainly want to support initially that idea to get them comfortable to kind of start re-educating them that, in fact, they were taken advantage of,” said Johnson.
He said for every known victim, there could be dozens more victims we don’t know about.
“Highly unlikely it’s the first time,” he said. “Typically people have around three to 100 victims for every victim we come upon.”
Police say they will continue to build their case against Vazquez but so far, they only know of the one victim.