A Florida man was arrested last week on accusations of sexually assaulting an intellectually disabled woman he met through an online mobile game, Fort Lauderdale police said.
Miguel Sales Mendez, 22, was arrested on charges of sexual battery of a helpless victim on Thursday in the alleged sexual assault of a 23-year-old woman. The woman had been diagnosed with having the mental capacity of a 12-year-old child, according to an arrest warrant obtained by HuffPost.
According to the warrant, Sales Mendez and the victim met in June 2023 while playing “Free Fighter,” an online mobile game, and exchanged phone numbers over the game’s chat feature.
The two communicated with each other over WhatsApp for months until September, when they decided to meet up in person, according to the warrant.
On Sep. 9, Sales Mendez arrived in front of the victim’s family home and allegedly sent her a message saying he was going to take her to a “magical place,” according to the document.
Police said the victim was scared to go with Sales Mendez, but he sent another message threatening her, stating that he was going to come into her home by force.
The victim then snuck out of her home and entered Sales Mendez’s car, and he drove her to a parking lot, police said.
Sales Mendez allegedly forced the victim out of his car and told her to go behind the building before asking her to turn off her cell phone, according to the warrant.
Police said Sales Mendez sexually assaulted the victim before fleeing the scene.
The victim called police as soon as Sales Mendez left the area and shewas taken to a sexual assault treatment center, where medical examiners found several sexual assault related injuries, according to the document.
According to the document, the victim told detectives that she did not know what sex was, but was able to identify the body parts to give a description of what allegedly happened.
Sales Mendez was pulled over by police weeks later on Oct. 31, when they executed a search warrant for his phone and DNA which was turned over into evidence, police said.
Investigators received DNA results in December, which they say provided “very strong support for the proposition that” Sales Mendez “contributed” the sample used in the rape kit following the incident.
According to arrest records, Sales Mendez is currently being held in Paul Rein Detention Facility and was denied bond. He is expected to appear in court on Wednesday for a pretrial hearing.
A public defender listed as Sales Mendez’s attorney did not respond to HuffPost’s request for a statement.
According to data from the Department of Justice, the rate of violent crimes against a person with a disability was almost four times the rate of someone without a disability between 2009 and 2019, and violence against those with cognitive disabilities was36% less likely to be reported to police.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.