Man suspected of sexual assault admits to being here illegally

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A suspected rapist is linked to yet another attack, and there are questions about why he was in the United States in the first place. Houston police are asking us not to show you the face of a suspected serial rapist, because they are still looking for possible victims.

According to police, the serial rape suspect has admitted responsibility for one of those attacks. They won't release exactly what the suspect said, only that they believe he is responsible for a series of vicious crimes.

Serial rape suspect Jose Fernando Rivera-Sanchez appeared in court early Wednesday morning. Police have asked us not to show his face, because they don't want to taint the memories of other women they hope will pick him out of a photo lineup.

HPD Lt. Mike Waterwall said, "We now have got two charges on him, and he's been identified by three of the victims as the attacker."

Police have now linked Rivera-Sanchez to at least seven attacks on women from June through October on the east and southeast side. The list includes five aggravated sexual assaults and two attempted assaults.

HPD Officer Marco Nava arrested Rivera-Sanchez on Sunday after a chance sighting. Nava spotted the suspect leaving a parking lot without his lights on.

"I just feel fortunate that I was out there on that street that night and I was able to pick him up," Officer Nava told Eyewitness News.

This is not Rivera-Sanchez's first arrest. He has six prior convictions for misdemeanors. He was deported back to Mexico in January. Investigators can't say when or how he came back.

"It's a huge Pandora's box," said Houston Crime Victim's Advocate Andy Kahan. "I really think it's just the tip of the iceberg."

Kahan says this case is symptomatic of a much larger problem -- gaping holes in border protection. He hopes lawmakers might see this case and realize a need for stricter controls on deportees.

"It's disturbing, it's sad," he said. "We have people, unfortunately, who are victimized and usually are -- in these cases of violent offenses -- that are scarred for a lifetime."

Rivera-Sanchez is in custody at the Harris County jail, being held without bond.
(Copyright © 2006, KTRK-TV)

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