The following press release has been issued by Cherokee County Sheriff's Office. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced the September 24, 2020 arrest of 39-year-old Benito Morales Mendez of Andrews, North Carolina for sexual assault of a child.
In January 2020, a complaint was made with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office of an allegation of sexual assault involving a minor child. Pursuant to this allegation, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation which identified Mendez as suspect in the case.
As the case was being investigated, assistance was provided by HAVEN Child Advocacy Center, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Cherokee County Department of Social Services and Cherokee County Schools. These agencies provided assistance in collecting statements from the victim and witnesses.
During the investigation, several electronic devices and other items of physical evidence were collected for examination.
As the investigation continued, an additional allegation of Violation of a Domestic Violence Protective Order was made against Mendez and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Additionally, an arrest warrant was issued for Mendez’s arrest for the allegations involving the sexual assault of the child.
When Detectives attempted to arrest Mendez, information was made known that he had fled from North Carolina. Further, information was made known that Mendez was not a legal citizen of the United States.
Assistance was requested from the United States Marshal Service Fugitive Apprehension Task Force and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations who assisted in locating Mendez several months later in Texas where he had fled. Mendez refused to waive extradition and a Governor’s warrant was issued and Mendez was brought back to Cherokee County where the North Carolina warrants were served on him.
Benito Mendez is currently charged with STATUTORY RAPE OF A CHILD BY ADULT and VIOLATE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTION ORDER. Mendez was taken before the North Carolina Magistrate who set a $500,000.00 secure bond. Additionally Mendez has a ICE Detainer which has no bond. Mendez is expected in Cherokee County District Court October 1, 2020 for his first appearance.
Sheriff Derrick Palmer stated, “As you can see it takes a team effort and one of the reasons we work so closely with our local and federal partners. Due to the age of the victim, we will not be making any further press releases.”
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