TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A 22-year-old Hillsborough County man has been arrested for having a sexual relationship with a minor after the subject of an Amber Alert was found at his home, deputies say.
Luis Alberto Encarnacion was arrested at his home on Pasadena Drive in Tampa on Tuesday. His arrest came after deputies say the 11-year-old victim, who had previously been reported missing out of Pasco County, was found at his house.
Encarnacion is facing charges for concealing the location of a minor, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, lewd and lascivious battery and sexual battery. Deputies say he admitted to the offenses when he was questioned by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detectives.
Neighbors like Jose Delacruz were shocked to hear the news.
“I was kind of scared because I do have siblings who live here, I have five siblings and I never had a reaction if one of them might have gotten stolen,” Delacruz said.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said multiple tips from the community helped deputies find the young girl who ran away from her middle school on Monday afternoon to meet two other young men at a nearby convenience store. Those two are also facing charges out of Pasco County in connection with the Amber Alert case. A 17-year-old boy and 19-year-old Reginald Clark have both been charged with interference of child custody.
Sheriff Nocco said the 11-year-old victim believed the 22-year-old was her boyfriend after meeting him through social media.
“In her mind, she thought Luis was her boyfriend. We all know that’s not real. That’s not real that an 11-year-old has a 22-year-old boyfriend,” Nocco said. “What is real is that Luis, this 22-year-old, acted like a predator on this little child.”
The sheriff said the young girl has led a very difficult life and now will need help moving forward.
“Her whole entire life, she’s been going through one adverse childhood experience to another. This is a societal issue. We can’t just brush it off and say ‘we found her, it’s OK.’ She needs intensive care, she needs intensive help,” Nocco said. “Her mom is in county jail, her dad is nowhere in the picture. She has gone from one adverse childhood experience to another. That’s why I go back to people who are putting rude comments on there. You have no idea what this girl has gone through in life.”
The young victim is now in the care of social services.
Sheriff Nocco explained that Encarnacion is not facing charges with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office because “the crimes he committed took place” within Hillsborough County’s jurisdiction.
“While we are incredibly proud of our deputies, and the teamwork that was displayed by all the agencies involved in the safe recovery of this child, we are deeply concerned for the victim’s well-being and the circumstances that led to these criminal acts,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement.
“In this case, an adult knowingly engaged in a sexual relationship with a child,” he added. “As we continue our investigation, we urge parents, teachers and friends to please help us prevent this abuse from happening by always monitoring who your children are talking to and never hesitating to call law enforcement if you believe a child is in danger.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office of statewide prosecution is handling the case against Encarnacion.
“I am horrified by the facts of this extremely disturbing case involving the sexual battery of a minor,” Moody said. “This arrest should serve as a startling warning to parents, that there are adults living among us who would seek out and prey on our children.”
In her statement, Moody praised Sheriff Chronister and the sheriff’s office for their work to “rescue the victim and arrest the monster harming her.” The AG also said she would do “everything within the authority of my office” to make sure Encarnacion faces justice and “can never again harm another child.”