HSI Arrests Former Special Education School Bus Driver On Sexual Exploitation Charges
SAN JUAN, PR – In the first case since 1945 in the District of Puerto Rico involving the transportation of an adult with the intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested a man in Orocovis today on sexual exploitation charges, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. Today, US Magistrate Judge Camille Vélez-Rivé authorized the criminal complaint charging Edwin Maldonado-Burgos with violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 2124.
HSI special agents arrested Maldonado-Burgos, 57, of Orocovis, after an investigation that stemmed from a referral from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice revealed that he transported a then 18-year-old mentally-disabled female, identified in the criminal complaint as “Jane Doe,” in order to engage in criminal sexual conduct.
“Today, the US Attorney’s Office is expanding its net of protection over the citizens of Puerto Rico by prosecuting, for the first time in more than 68 years in this District, a section of the White Slave Traffic Act, that protects any individual, not just minors, from criminal sexual exploitation,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, US Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “With today’s arrest let it be known that federal authorities will use every resource at their disposal, and every law on the books, to protect all victims of sexual exploitation.”
“Few cases are more heinous and despicable than one involving the sexual exploitation of a minor. In this case, though, we are faced with a case involving the sexual exploitation of a mentally-disabled adult woman, whose cognitive development is akin to that of a sixth grader,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “Have no doubt, HSI will not tolerate this aberrant behavior against a very vulnerable sector of our society whether the victim is a minor or, as in this case, an adult with the mental capacity of a minor.”
According to the criminal complaint, in or about October 2012, Maldonado-Burgos, a school bus driver, picked up Jane Doe at her Orocovis school and transported her to a deserted area in order to engage in criminal sexual conduct. Jane Doe, who is currently 19 years old, was a student in a specialized school for the mentally handicapped. The charging document further alleges that Jane Doe asked Maldonado-Burgos to stop the school bus so she could use the bathroom. When she walked back towards the bus, Maldonado forcibly grabbed her and sexually assaulted her.
The criminal complaint also alleges that when Jane Doe asked Maldonado-Burgos what would happen if they had baby, he said that he would “kill himself.” The investigation revealed that approximately one month after the incident, Jane Doe began to feel sick. As a result, her mother took her to the doctor thinking the she might be ill. When all tests came up negative, the doctor suggested doing a pregnancy test, which ultimately came up positive. After finding out that Jane Doe was pregnant, Maldonado-Burgos threatened to kill her and the baby if she did not have an abortion. A subsequent DNA test conducted as part of the Puerto Rico Department of Justice’s investigation revealed, with an accuracy of 99.9%, that Maldonado-Burgos was in fact the father of Jane Doe’s child.
Maldonado-Burgos will be brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Camille Vélez-Rivé later today for his initial appearance. He is expected to be transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo to await the outcome of his case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshal Morgan. If convicted, the defendant could face up to ten years in prison. A criminal complaint is an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.