An illegal immigrant has been charged with the rape of an unconscious 15-year-old girl.
Hamilton County, Tennessee, sheriff’s deputies arrested Erik Santillan on Dec. 10, according to WTVC-TV in Chattanooga.
The 21-year-old was identified as an illegal immigrant from Mexico.
The victim told police she drank alcohol with the accused at a friend’s house in Ooltewah, Tennessee, on June 20, 2022.
She said she later woke up to find that she had been sexually assaulted, and an examination showed she had internal injuries, WTVC reported.
The victim said she told the woman of the house, Santillan’s aunt, what had happened, but the “aunt was protecting Erik because she was afraid of law enforcement becoming involved.”
The friend also told law enforcement that she saw Santillan raping the 15-year-old.
The suspect “became scarce” in the weeks following the incident, according to WTVC.
Law enforcement initially believed that he had fled to Mexico.
JUST IN: A 15-year-old girl in Ooltewah, Tennessee was raped a year and a half ago, and deputies just arrested an undocumented immigrant from Mexico and charged him with the crime.
— WTVC NewsChannel 9 🥳🎉 (@newschannelnine) December 19, 2023
However, authorities eventually learned Santillan was residing in Orlando, Florida. They reached him by phone there but were unable to get his address.
WRCB-TV in Chattanooga reported on Dec. 19 that the suspect had been taken into custody in Greenville, South Carolina.
It said he was scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 22.
Santillan is facing a felony charge of aggravated rape, according to Chattanoogan.com.
He was being held at the Hamilton County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond.
The charge is punishable by between 15 and 60 years in prison.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.