ST. CROIX — A Frederiksted man who allegedly forced a minor to view a photo of his genitals and tried to pressure her into displaying hers is before the courts on child abuse charges.
The aunt and mother of a 15-year-old girl reported the matter to police on November 7, 2022. They said that a few days earlier, Myles Ventura, a family friend, was asked to pick up the girl from high school because the aunt was having car trouble.
The 28-year-old agreed, and was told to bring the girl straight home, but the 15-year-old told police that from the school yard, she was taken to the Department of Labor. In the parking lot, Ventura allegedly told the girl that he had a “confession” to make. The girl recounted feeling uncomfortable as he reportedly stroked her chin and pulled her face close to his.
The pair then went inside the building briefly before returning to the vehicle, where Ventura took his phone and reportedly opened up a folder on his Snapchat account called “My Eyes Only”. In the folder, he allegedly clicked on a photo of his penis and tossed the phone onto the 15-year-old’s lap.
The girl told Ventura that she did not want this interaction, to which he reportedly replied that she didn’t have to worry because she was “going to see it in person.”
Ventura is then alleged to have continued making overtures that were rebuffed. The girl said he put his hand on her thigh, she pushed it away. He asked if she had any photos of her breasts or vulva on her phone that he could see. The answer was no. At some point, the quick-thinking girl orchestrated a clandestine phone call with her aunt, who she said listened in as Ventura asked the minor child to lift her skirt. She says she ran out of the car to her aunt and uncle as soon as they arrived home.
Shaken, the girl says she kept to herself for the entire weekend, but eventually decided to speak up because she could not believe Ventura, supposedly a friend of the family, would do something like this to her. She provided police with a description of Ventura’s genitalia.
The aunt told police that she was alerted to Ventura’s alleged inappropriate behavior when she called her niece and the girl told her that he was showing “half-naked pictures of himself.” The aunt says she called Ventura to request that he bring her niece home immediately, rebuffing his suggestion that the pair go to Wendy’s before coming home.
The girl texted her again, the aunt says, to disclose that now, Ventura was asking to touch her. The aunt called the 15-year-old, who reportedly pretended to hang up the phone while keeping the line open. That’s when the aunt says she heard Ventura telling the girl that he had liked her for a long time and wanted to see what was under her skirt. “I’m not going to show you,” the aunt told police she heard her niece say. The enraged woman says she also heard him ask the child to act normally, as if they did not have a conversation.
When the pair arrived home, the aunt says she punched the man who she had known since 2017, until her boyfriend separated the pair. She said she felt betrayed by the man she had considered a friend, and was angry that her trust had been violated.
Police went to Ventura’s home on February 21, 2023, where they met his father. He called Ventura to tell him that the police were there and promised to bring him to the police station. On February 23rd, having not come in of his own accord, Ventura was arrested based on a warrant issued by the courts and charged with child abuse, violating the Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act, and distributing or exhibiting obscene material to a minor.
He appeared in the V.I. Superior Court on Friday for his advice of rights hearing, where a judge ruled that he could be released into the 3rd-party custodial care of his father upon the payment of a cash bond of $1000. Ventura now awaits his pre-trial conference hearing, scheduled for April 10, 2023.
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