A Hartford shop owner is in jail, accused of paying with groceries to have sex with a 13-year-old girl. The girl’s family caretaker was also arrested in a case police are calling “disturbing and alarming.”
Ruffino Fernandez, 55, the owner of a bodega on Zion Street in Hartford, is charged with first-degree sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, risk of injury to a minor, second-degree unlawful restraint, illegal sexual contact, fourth-degree sexual assault and conspiracy to commit fourth-degree sexual assault. The assaults allegedly took place in the basement of his store, Keithbel Market.
The woman police say Fernandez paid to bring the girl to the store is 29-year-old Wilnelia David, a trusted friend of the girl’s family.
Police say the assaults occurred multiple times, but she never told her parents, perhaps under the influence and guidance of of David.
“That a 13-year-old’s morals were impaired by two adults, especially one that was actually in her care, she was a family friend, a family acquaintance and even the fact that the family trusted this individual, it’s pretty disturbing and alarming,” said Hartford Police Sgt. Glendaly Garcia.
Garcia, of the Hartford Police major crimes unit, said police have been investigating since December on information from the girl’s father.
“The father was made aware of the sexual assault by a third party who saw an electronic message – emailed or video – it’s not confirmed yet,” Garcia said. “The child would be brought downstairs and there was some sex contact made based on the charges and investigation.”
Wilnelia David is being sought, facing sexual assault charges.
Fernandez is being held on a half-million dollar bond.
The girl is “with her family, and DCF is not investigating this case because it’s not a result of parents’ negligence,” Garcia said.
Fernandez was actually arrested first in January when police got a warrant to search his home. Police said they found illegal guns and drugs. Neighbors say the store has been shut down for the past couple months.