An Atlantic City man left the country a day after he was accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl in 2015, according to information released at his detention hearing Thursday.
Santos Torres, 76, was arrested Monday on charges including second-degree sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a minor.
But the investigation dates to Sept. 10, 2015, when the alleged victim went to the hospital to get checked out and found she tested positive for herpes, Assistant Prosecutor David Ruffenach told the judge.
The then-16-year-old girl told a nurse that Torres — a family friend — had been sexually inappropriate with her since she was 13, Ruffenach said. On at least one instance, at 15, he had sex with her, the teen later told investigators.
The day after the hospital visit, Torres got on a plane and “abruptly left the United States” headed to Ecuador, Ruffenach said.
He was there for 18 months, Torres said in court.
Torres is an American citizen and was born in Puerto Rico, Ruffenach noted.
This past Sept. 8, a family friend called the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office saying that Torres was back in Atlantic City, Ruffenach said.
By that point, the teen had recanted her statement, but later said it was because she “felt forced or threatened to do that” when Torres called a few times from out of the country.
She has since reiterated that Torres did abuse her.
After Torres tested positive for the herpes virus, he was arrested, Ruffenach said.
He is additionally charged with committing an act of sexual penetration by a diseased person.
If released, “he’ll be at the airport by the end of the weekend,” Ruffenach told Superior Court Judge Patricia Wild in arguing for detention.
She agreed, even though the public safety assessment recommended release.
The low score of one out of six for failure to appear does not take into consideration that Torres fled the country for nearly two years, the judge said.
She also noted the allegation that Torres contacted the victim.
“That is obstruction of justice,” Wild said.
Torres will remain in the Atlantic County Justice Facility.