SAN DIEGO – A North Park man has been charged on suspicion of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old Oklahoma girl, court officials announced Friday.
Ramsey Manuel Cervantes, 22, is accused of kidnapping the young girl after meeting her through a social media application and convincing her that he was a 17-year-old boy, according to a complaint stated in a press release from U.S. Attorney South District of California. Cervantes is suspected of driving from San Diego to Oklahoma, meeting with her several times and establishing a relationship with the underage girl.
The teenager eventually broke things off with the 22-year-old after he “became abusive,” but after a two-month separation, the pair recently reconnected over social media, investigators say.
On June 15, the North Park resident drove to Oklahoma to meet with the teenager and, upon picking her up at her residence, told her that she would be traveling with him back to San Diego, United States Department of Justice officials said. The girl refused and that is when Cervantes is believed to have pulled a knife on her and threatened to kill her if she attempted to leave.
Throughout the drive back to San Diego, the 22-year-old is accused of assaulting the victim multiple times, using duct tape to restrain her and even repeatedly forcing her to drink vodka in order to keep her “in a constant state of heavy intoxication.”
Upon their arrival in San Diego on June 19, DOJ officials say that Cervantes locked the girl in his bedroom for four days. The girl also told investigators that during this time, she saw him place a knife in a nearby drawer, which she believed he would use if she attempted to escape.
On June 22, Cervantes was said to have accidentally left his phone at home while making a trip to the store, giving the young girl an opportunity to call her father who had reported her missing, and to reach out to police. Officers were sent to the home and Cervantes was promptly arrested.
“The allegations against this defendant highlight the digital and physical vulnerability of our nation’s
children,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We will do everything we can to prevent children from
becoming victims, and to seek justice if they do. It is important that all of us remain vigilant regarding
online activity. Not everyone is who they claim to be in cyberspace.”
DOJ officials say that FBI agents were called in to assist due to the fact that the accused traveled to a different state to kidnap the young girl, as well as the use of his cellphone, which is “an instrumentality of interstate commerce.”
“The defendant is faced with allegations that he committed heinous crimes stemming from an online
encounter,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy. “There is no higher priority than protecting
children in both physical and virtual worlds. I want to thank the San Diego Police Department, the San
Diego County District Attorney’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District
of California for their commitment, partnership, and swift action in rescuing the victim, taking the defendant
into custody, and filing charges.”