A Pride Park, Florida, man has been arrested after sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl. The man used his position as an ice cream salesman to lure the victim and her 8-year-old brother into his home.
Sixty-six-year-old Bernardo Salinas was arrested Sunday night after the girl and her brother told their story to relatives. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation and subsequently charged Salinas with capital sexual battery, according to the Bradenton Herald.
Salinas sells ice cream from a cart, and reportedly it wasn’t the first time a child entered his home to purchase treats. It’s a regular occurrence that local residents didn’t seem disturbed by. It was normal for local children to buy ice cream from Salinas from his cart on the street or at his home’s back door.
Salinas lives in the same neighborhood as the victim, and it’s unclear if they had any sort of relationship before the heinous incident.
After the brother and sister entered the home to purchase the ice cream, Salinas reportedly told the boy to go outside and play with friends. It was then that Salinas took the girl into his bedroom and locked the door.
FOX13 spoke with the victim’s mother, who said her daughter saw a gun and knife on his nightstand and was afraid she was going to die. The girl was scared to tell her story to her parents and waited several hours into the evening before coming forward.
When Salinas was arrested and questioned, he changed his story multiple times, causing police to question his innocence. The police department believed the children after he continually changed major details of the incident.
Salinas maintained originally that the children never entered his bedroom. Later during the questioning, he then claimed the girl had run into his bedroom and locked herself inside to get away from her brother. His last story detailed the boy going into his bedroom and locking the door.
The ice cream man is still denying he sexually assaulted the girl.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone else who might have had a similar experience with Salinas to call them or their local police department. It would be unusual if this was a solo occurrence for Salinas.
Salinas is currently still in police custody.
[Featured Image by Fish Ho Hong Yun/Shutterstock]