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Pirates’ closer Felipe Vázquez described sexual encounter with girl as ‘sex but not really,’ police say

Pittsburgh Pirates’ All-Star closer Felipe Vázquez admitted to a 2017 sexual encounter with a 13-year-old girl that he described as “sex but not really,” according to a Pennsylvania criminal complaint released Wednesday.

Vázquez, 28, was arrested Tuesday and faces charges of statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor and other counts.

CNN sought comment multiple times by phone and email Wednesday from Vázquez’s attorneys. The player’s agent did not respond to emails seeking comment.

The case stems from an August 2017 encounter with the teenage girl in his Ford Mustang at the bottom of the driveway of her home in Scottdale, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, the complaint said.

When confronted by police this week, Vázquez said he didn’t remember the girl’s name but acknowledged knowing her after seeing a photo, according to the complaint.

He told police the girl first messaged him on Instagram but said he initially “refused to communicate with her due to her age,” the complaint said. “The accused advised the Victim looked too young and that she appeared to be 16 years of age or younger,” according to the complaint.

Vázquez described the encounter to investigators as “sex but not really” because “he could not fit his penis entirely into the Victim’s vagina,” according to the complaint.

The girl told police that Vázquez gave up, the complaint said. Vázquez told police that he told the girl he needed to leave because the Pirates had a game that night. As recently as July 2019, he contacted the girl with a lewd message, according to the complaint.

Vázquez, a two-time All-Star who’s among the National League leaders in saves this season, began messaging the teen on social media in 2017 and they exchanged phone numbers, according to the complaint.

The complaint also said Vázquez and the girl exchanged explicit photos of themselves.

Pennsylvania State Police spokesman Stephen Limani said the encounter between Vázquez and the teen — who now lives in Florida — was only disclosed after the girl’s mother discovered explicit messages, photos and video on her daughter’s phone.

The mother first saw a message Vázquez sent her daughter in July, saying: “I can’t wait to see you during the off-season,” according to a complaint filed in Lee County, Florida.

The Florida complaint said the girl first met Vázquez after taking a photo with him outside the bullpen in Pittsburgh. She contacted him on social media. They had been contacting each other electronically for three years, according to the court document.

“When it comes to cases like this, you always get concerned there may be someone else out there,” Limani said of other possible cases. “In this particular instance, we only have one report.”

Vázquez initially faced felony counts in Florida

When Vázquez was arrested Tuesday, he initially faced felony counts of soliciting a child for unlawful sexual conduct using computer services or devices and giving obscene material to a minor in Lee County, Florida, according to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement statement.

Limani said the more serious charges in Pennsylvania will be handled first.

“Obviously he has other things that he has to worry about and be concerned about in Florida but we have no interest in trying to relinquish him until we can try and work through these charges,” he said.

He has not entered a plea and could be arraigned later in the day, according to Limani.

The Pennsylvania charges include statutory sexual assault of a person who is under the age of 16 by someone who is at least 11 years older, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of a minor by a defendant who is 18 years old or older, and indecent assault on a person less than 16 years old. The first two charges are first-degree felonies.

On Tuesday, Vázquez’s lawyers released a statement.

“We are in the process of reviewing both the Pennsylvania and Florida charging documents, as well as the underlying facts of the matter,” attorney Jay K. Reisinger and attorney Michael A. Comber said. “At this time, any comment would be premature.”

Vázquez was denied bail, according to a spokesperson for the arraignment court in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Pirates President Frank Coonelly said the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office has placed Vázquez on administrative leave.

“We take this matter, and these charges in particular, extremely seriously,” Coonelly said in a statement. “We need to be respectful to all involved and the ongoing legal proceeding. As a result, the organization, our staff and players cannot comment any further at this time.”

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Chris Archer on Tuesday called the allegations “very serious.”

“Right now, as far as we know, they’re just allegations,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot that we can say. But I do have a 14-year-old sister so it’s something that hits home.”

The team “talked about a lot of different emotions that were stirred up today in a lot of different places,” manager Clint Hurdle added. They also discussed ways they can hold themselves accountable on and off the field, he said.

Vázquez’s locker in PNC Park in Pittsburgh has been cleaned out, a Pirates spokesman said Tuesday. Signs featuring the pitcher at the ballpark have also been removed.

The investigation

Florida law enforcement agents and Pennsylvania State Police served a search warrant at Vázquez’s Pittsburgh apartment, where several electronic devices were seized, according to a FDLE statement.

The Florida investigation began in August after authorities received information that Vázquez had “a reported sexual relationship” with a resident there who was 13 at the time, the statement said. The girl is now 15.

Vázquez allegedly sent the teen photographs and a video from his cell phone on July 16, according to a state court affidavit filed in Florida. The Pirates had a game in St. Louis on that date.

The affidavit said the photos and video did not show the suspect’s face but authorities were able to identify him through “numerous tattoos” about his body that are “unique and distinguishable.”

Vázquez, who is from Venezuela, is being held in the Allegheny County Jail, authorities said.

Vázquez, who represented the Pirates at the 2019 All-Star Game in Cleveland, had a 5-1 record, with 28 saves and a 1.65 ERA this season. His 37 saves last season were the most by a left-handed pitcher in Pirates history.

CNN

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