She’s a ten-year old Key West girl. He, her stepfather, crawls into her bed, “grabs her hand and puts it on his penis.” He touches her breasts and at times he tries to touch her “private parts” but she fights him off when he does that. Sometimes she “gets sticky stuff on her hand.”
The whole thing is repulsive, heart-wrenching, and according to an FDLE investigation, it went on for over a year where he would come into her bed about once a week while the rest of her family slept.
She complained to her mother. The mother left her husband for a short time, but they soon got back together, after he promised to be good. But apparently, nothing changed.
When our little girl couldn’t wait any longer for her mother to control her husband, she found the courage to tell a school official who called the police. That stepfather was Henry Arroyo, Jr., a police officer who worked as a resource officer at Key West High.
So FDLE was called in. FDLE interviewed everyone, recorded the witness statements, including the victim’s, and built up a compelling case. Arroyo, Jr. was arrested. He posted bond, he got out of jail and… nothing.
The girl, now a teenager, signed an affidavit informing Catherine Vogel, the State Attorney, that she was not willing to testify in the case. Vogel dropped the charges. The official reason: the State didn’t want to force the child victim to testify.
This is the part where we are told that there’s no way such a case can be brought without the victim’s testimony; that a prosecution can’t rely on hearsay. The problem with that excuse is that it is just that, an excuse, and a lame one at that. In fact, the rules of evidence in Florida have been adapted to allow all credible statements made by a child victim of sexual abuse. Anything the child has said to a third person could, in fact, be used in court, whether the child testifies or not. It is called the ‘Child Victim Exception.’ F.S. 90.803(23)
FDLE had collected those taped interviews. Experts, school officials, detectives, doctors, had interviewed the victim. The record contains plenty of hearsay exception testimony; enough to allow a jury to send Arroyo up the river for a long time, if they were inclined to do so. Yet, somehow, the State Attorney cannot find it in her heart to go after him.
And it gets a lot worse. Arroyo resigned from his position at KWPD not long before he was officially charged but he was immediately hired as a security guard by the Key West Housing Authority. He works alongside his mother Frances Arroyo, Director of Management Services for KWHA and he’s now in charge of “Lease Enforcement” for all of KWHA’s properties.
We were interested in seeing just what the Housing Authority’s job description might be for an alleged sexual predator with a taste for little girls. After all, the public housing run by KWHA provides shelter to some of the most vulnerable children in our community. Many single mothers are struggling with low-paying jobs, with fathers missing or in prison. Families in these housing projects live at the absolute mercy of Housing Authority management. In 1990 the US Congress enacted a law giving public housing managers a nearly unfettered right to evict tenants, even based on simple hearsay offered by a fellow tenant about alleged drug use. Everyone lives in fear of summary eviction. As enforcer of this all-powerful and despotic system, the Housing Authority has chosen none other than, Henry Arroyo, Jr. He is now the “Prince of the Projects.”
The following are some of the elements found in Henry Arroyo, Jr.’s official KWHA job description:
“Conducts both exterior and interior inspections.”
Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
“Must be able to work alone and with minimal supervision.”
“Have experience in handling confidential matters.”
Is this the dream job for a child molester?
If the allegations are true, is there any chance he’s given up a taste for young girls that was so powerful that he preyed on his stepdaughter even after being caught?
The system has not only failed to protect Arroyo’s stepdaughter, it is also now failing the children and families in Key West’s public housing.
Last week The Blue Paper received information about another disturbing case. This may or may not be under investigation and we are not going to name any of the people involved.
A Monroe County judge apparently refused to allow testimony by a respected doctor who would have pointed out that a young girl was possibly being exposed to sexual molestation or at a minimum that there were legitimate concerns that she was being “groomed” for such to occur in the future. He would have told the judge that there were “significant red flags,” and that in his opinion it was not at all clear that the child was “free from potential harm’s way.” The judge rejected various attempts to bring the child into a less questionable, safer environment. His decisions in the case have recently been reversed by the 3rd District Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal admonished him for his apparent lack of concern for the best interests of the child and ordered an expedited full evidentiary hearing on the matter.
A police officer, the State Attorney, and now a Judge.
Does it seem as though at least some members of the local law enforcement network are not very concerned about the sexual exploitation of children?
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