Ramon Berlanga-Rodriguez, a Grand Rapids man who is former executive director of the Hispanic American Council in Kalamazoo, has been accused of selling videos containing sexual assaults of a teen on the Internet, according to a federal complaint.
Berlanga-Rodriguez who is 40 years old was awaiting trial before the state, however the charges against him were dismissed by Kent County prosecutors on February 25 after federal authorities took over. He had been charged with producing sexually abusive material, using a computer to commit a crime, and two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The defendant was sentenced to probation and 8 1/2 months in jail in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court last year after it was determined he was embezzling money from the Hispanic American Council, an organization that service southwestern Michigan communities.
The victim of the alleged sexual assault reported that she had been molested between late 2010 and early 2012 by Berlanga-Rodriguez, and that there was a particular individual who asked and paid for the videos made by the defendant. According to the victim, one to three videos were made each week, and Berlanga-Rodriguez received payment through Paypal for the videos in amounts of $500 to $2,500 per video. This information was included in the complaint written by special agent for the Department of Homeland Security Tim Kruithoff.
Grand Rapids police Detective Jon Kraczon worked with Kruithoff in the investigation, obtaining the cell phone of the defendant. While news reports indicate that the cell phone was locked which prevented examination by detectives, a MicroSD card revealed photos of Berlanga-Rodriguez and the alleged victim, who were both naked. Some of the photos allegedly captured the victim alone, while others included both the victim and Berlanga-Rodriguez, who told police that he had never touched the victim inappropriately, or done anything of a sexual nature with her.
The charges against the defendant in this case are very serious, particularly given the fact that he will be tried at the federal level. Michigan sex crime lawyers know that depending on the circumstances, an individual convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct may face life behind bars. Even when sentencing isn't as harsh, the requirement to register as a sex offender will negatively impact the accused individual's life for years to come.
If you have been charged with a sex-related crime, do not take matters into your own hands - you are gambling with your freedom, reputation, and future. Consult with a skilled and dedicated Michigan sex crime attorney at once.