New Mexico man Raymond Hernandez is accused of raping three children in a week and sexually assaulting his 13-year-old daughter — all while he was released on bail twice by the same judge.
The 29-year-old was taken into custody after a statewide manhunt, Fox News reported. Police say Hernandez raped a teenage girl and beat her friend, but Judge Ernest Ortega released him on $10,000 bond. Just two days later, Hernandez was arrested again — while still wearing an ankle monitor — on charges that he molested a 19-month-old toddler who was living at the same house as the teen he allegedly raped.
Hernandez was taken back to court, but Judge Ortega once again allowed him to be released after he posted $20,000 bail.
A few days later, police say Hernandez attacked again, this time raping a 5-year-old girl who lived next to his family. Hernandez then went on the run, evading police until he was captured this weekend in Colorado.
Police said they have obtained a search warrant for Hernandez’s DNA, which they believe will connect him to the rape of the 5-year-old girl, the Taos News reported.
The report noted that Hernandez had no prior criminal history, only a 2012 child support case in which a judge ruled Hernandez had to pay more than $7,000 that he owed to the mother of his child.
The allegations against Raymond Hernandez attracted attention around the area, especially amid reports that he may have fled to Colorado. News outlets in Colorado including CBS Denver also shared updates and requests from the Costilla County Sheriff’s Department for local residents to be on the lookout for him.
The story of Raymond Hernandez’s most recent arrest garnered even more national interest, with many sharing the story on social media. The severity of the allegations against the 29-year-old led many to criticize the judge who twice offered bail for him, allowing Hernandez to remain free.
Others claimed that the story had political implications, claiming that Ortega may have been swayed by his political leanings. There was no evidence of this being the case, but the alleged rapes took place amid wider discussions of border security in the Southwest, and the story gained particular traction among right-leaning news outlets and websites.
Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told KOB 4 Eyewitness News that police believe Raymond Hernandez may have left other victims, and asked anyone with information about potential cases to contact the Taos County Sheriff’s Department at (575) 737-6480.