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Undocumented migrant accused of sexually assaulting 11-year-old girl in Lake Worth Beach

Marvin Perez Lopez faces charges of kidnapping a minor under 13 years of age and sexual assault
Marvin Perez Lopez faces a charge of kidnapping a minor under 13 years of age and sexual assault, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
Posted at 2:07 PM, May 06, 2024

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — An undocumented immigrant from Guatemala is accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 11-year-old girl in Lake Worth Beach, deputies said.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said the suspect, Marvin Perez Lopez, 20, was arrested Saturday.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the incident occurred Thursday in a parked van near the family's home.

The child's mother told investigators that she thought her daughter was inside their home but wasn't, so she went outside to find her.

After walking around, she realized her daughter was in the van with a man.

She told them she banged on the van and asked them what they were doing and the suspect ran out of the van, saying he was sorry and asked for forgiveness. The affidavit said the child and Lopez live in the same apartment building.

The affidavit said the mother didn't call the police because she was afraid due to her immigration status and a prior incident when her daughter was taken from her by authorities for a short time.

Investigators also interviewed the 11-year-old girl, who is in the sixth grade. The affidavit said she told investigators that her attacker grabbed her hand and told her to "get into the van." She said he started touching her and pushed Lopez away. The child said she was able to get out of the van, however, he grabbed her and pulled her back into the vehicle.

The girl then outlined to investigators how Lopez sexually assaulted her.

Detectives said they went to Lopez's home on South K Street on Friday night to speak with him. When they knocked on his door, detectives said Lopez exited a window in the back of the home and ran west into an alley.

Investigators spoke with a family member at the suspect's home who said he knew why Lopez ran "because of what happened yesterday," saying that the girl's mother came to their door and told him.

Hermencia Vasquez speaks with WPTV about the arrest of her brother-in-law, Marvin Perez Lopez.
Hermencia Vasquez speaks with WPTV about the arrest of her brother-in-law, Marvin Perez Lopez.

Hermencia Vasquez told WPTV that she was home when her brother-in-law was accused of sexual assault.

"It was 9 at night and the lady/mom came into my house saying that something happened with her daughter and Marvin," Vasquez said. "I asked Marvin what would he do if she got pregnant and if he would be responsible, and he said yes he would be responsible for the child."

Detectives said Lopez left Guatemala in early January, crossed through Mexico and turned himself in to U.S. Border Patrol. The sheriff's office said Lopez was given a court date for some time in 2027 and released from custody.

According to investigators, he found his way to Florida at the end of January 2024.

In a Monday post on the sheriff's office X page, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said workers at the Guatemalan Maya Center alerted them about the sexual assault.

"Our work in the community paid off because we have a good relationship with that center," Bradshaw said. "We have a lot of people here in Palm Beach County that may or may not be illegal, and they become victims. They shouldn't be afraid to call us. We're not going to call Border Patrol if they're a victim and haven't committed a crime. We're going to help them."

Bradshaw said Lopez has confessed and will face trial in the U.S.

"Before he even remotely even thinks he's going to get deported, he's going to do the time here first," Bradshaw said.

Immigration attorney Richard Hujber discusses the backlog in immigrant court cases.
Immigration attorney Richard Hujber discusses the backlog in immigrant court cases.

'Courts Are Overwhelmed'

Why was Lopez given a court date for 2027? Immigration attorney Richard Hujber said he knows the answer.

"So, the courts are overwhelmed, for sure, that's the answer," Hujber told WPTV.

He said vetting at the border is poor.

"They know they'll get a hearing date many years from now and during that time, just with that hearing notice, for example, they can get a driver's license," Hujber said. "If they seek asylum, they can also get a work permit, and nobody is looking at the merit as to whether they have a legitimate valid asylum claim."

Lopez faces charges of kidnapping a minor under 13 years of age and sexual assault.

He is being held in the main Palm Beach County Jail without bond.