Felipe Vazquez sex charges, Major League pitcher Facing 21 Charges.
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Felipe Vazquez initially told a state trooper in September that “nothing had happened” between him and a 13-year-old girl police were questioning him about because she was “too young.”
But later in that Sept. 17 interview, Trooper Michael Thompson testified Tuesday, Mr. Vazquez admitted to engaging in sexual activity with the girl in the driveway of her home in Scottdale, Westmoreland County, and exchanging explicit photos and videos with her. The pitcher showed the trooper photos on his cellphone and a video on his laptop computer before he was arrested.
“Initially, he told me nothing had happened between them,” the trooper said during a preliminary hearing before District Judge Charles D. Moore in Mount Pleasant. “He indicated she was too young.”
Mr. Vazquez, a native of Venezuela, was held for court on charges of statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and indecent assault of a person younger than 16 that had been filed Sept. 17 as well as 21 new charges filed Tuesday. The new charges, related to the same victim who is now 16 and living in Florida, were related to the photos and videos on the devices that were confiscated when he was arrested.
Judge Moore also denied a request to release Mr. Vazquez, 28, on $1 million bond while he awaits trial, despite offers that he would turn in his passport and green card and live under house arrest in Westmoreland County. He remains in Westmoreland County Prison and has been placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball.
During the 90-minute hearing, Mr. Vazquez sat in shackles at a table with three attorneys. He wore a blue suit and orange croc shoes that he slipped on and off several times.
At the start of an interview that lasted 30-45 minutes, Trooper Thompson said, he showed Mr. Vazquez a photo of the girl and Mr. Vazquez admitted he knew her but denied any relationship with her. As the interview continued, Mr. Vazquez admitted to their sexual relationship and that he exchanged sexually explicit photos and videos with her, the trooper said.
In the criminal complaint, police said Mr. Vazquez drove to her Scottdale home in August 2017 and parked his Mercedes in the driveway. The girl told police she joined Mr. Vazquez in the car, where he removed her pants and put his penis in her vagina.
He could not fully insert his penis, she told police, and stopped trying after about a minute.
Trooper Thompson testified the victim told him Mr. Vazquez also touched her vagina with his hand.
The new charges filed Tuesday relate to seven photos and three videos Mr. Vazquez and the girl exchanged where they were “in various stages of nudity,” Trooper Thompson said.
Defense attorney Robert Wheelock asked for bond for Mr. Vazquez, claiming he had no prior criminal charges and offering to establish residency in Westmoreland County for Mr. Vazquez under house arrest. A previous attorney had agreed to have Mr. Vazquez remain in jail until the charges were adjudicated.
Mr. Wheelock said the pitcher is a dedicated athlete committed to continuing his career as one of the top closers in baseball. His client had completed a mental health evaluation that concluded he has normal sexual urges for a 28-year-old man and shouldn’t be considered a predator.
Assistant District Attorney James Lazar opposed releasing the pitcher because he said the charges are so serious he would be a flight risk even with a high bond and electronic monitoring. Mr. Vazquez made “an incalculably stupid decision” to engage in sexual activity with a 13-year-old, he said, and should be considered a high flight risk because of his high income and the likelihood he would face substantial prison time and deportation if he is convicted.
Judge Moore agreed with the prosecutor.
“I’m not comfortable with putting him in a position of being out in our community,” he said.
Defense attorney William McCabe, another of the three attorneys defending Mr. Vazquez, said he would appeal the bond denial to Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court as soon as possible.
In addition to the charges in Westmoreland County, Mr. Vazquez faces additional charges involving the same girl in Florida that claim he gave obscene material to a minor and solicited a child for unlawful sexual conduct using computer services or devices for allegedly exchanging sexually explicit photos and a video by cellphone.
Those charges are pending. At a hearing in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court earlier Tuesday, President Judge Rita Hathaway ruled that Mr. Vazquez must face charges in Pennsylvania first.