Hellertown Man Charged With Sexual Assault of Child

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A Hellertown man is facing charges in Dallas Township, Luzerne County, following the alleged sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl who authorities say he met online.

According to a report published by WBRE/WYOU Tuesday, 21-year-old Rafael Santiago Jr. of Hellertown borough allegedly gave the girl alcohol before performing sexual acts on her after the two communicated via the social networking app Snapchat.

The report indicated that Santiago was taken into custody by Dallas Township Police in March after the girl’s mother assisted police in their investigation, and that at the time, he allegedly admitted to bringing beer to a meeting with the girl and kissing her.

Santiago appeared in district court Tuesday for a preliminary arraignment on charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16 (a first-degree felony), statutory sexual assault (a second-degree felony), corruption of minors (a third-degree felony), indecent assault of a person under the age of 16 (a second-degree misdemeanor) and furnishing a minor with liquor (a third-degree misdemeanor). It was unclear why there was a five-month gap between his arrest and preliminary arraignment.

According to the criminal court docket filed in his case, Santiago was arraigned before District Judge Brian James Tupper, before whom his preliminary hearing is scheduled to be held on Thursday, Sept. 9 at 10 a.m. Tupper is the magistrate for Luzerne County District Court 11-3-09 in Trucksville, Kingston Township, and he released Santiago on $50,000 unsecured bail following Tuesday’s hearing, according to the court docket.

The docket lists Santiago’s attorney as Shelley L. Centini of Dyller Law Firm in Wilkes-Barre.

Note: All individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This story was compiled using information from local media sources and Luzerne County criminal court records.

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