Prosecutors are looking into whether a former New York Yankee, currently on trial for allegedly sexually abusing two elementary-school-aged girls, may have allegedly abused at least four other children on Long Island.
The revelations against Rosendo “Rusty” Torres were disclosed publicly for the first time Thursday morning. The 65-year-old from Massapequa is currently on trial in Nassau County and stands accused of allegedly having inappropriate sexual contact with two 8-year-old girls while he was working as a youth coach at a Town of Oyster Bay after-school program. Prosecutors allege he rubbed up against one of the girls before allegedly exposing himself to her and encouraging her to touch him.
Torres pleaded not guilty to felony sexual abuse and sexual conduct against a child charges. He maintains he is innocent, but declined to comment on the allegations. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney D.J. Rosenbaum said Thursday that Torres had been offered a plea deal – before he was indicted – that guaranteed the district attorney’s office would not prosecute him for allegedly abusing four other possible victims. She said prosecutors had learned of what she called “other known possible victims” in July 2012, but have not brought additional charges against the former major league player. A spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said additional investigations involving Torres were still ongoing.
Rosenbaum said it was “not a surprise there are other children who had come forward.” She said the alleged incidents occurred at various locations and schools. Torres’ defense lawyer questioned why prosecutors had not previously revealed the information and said he didn’t believe the accusations.
“If they had evidence to support it, they should have brought it,” Torres’ lawyer, Troy Smith, said. “At this late hour, they’re making these accusations which I believe are wholly inaccurate.” He said his client has mentored more than 40,000 children on Long Island and has acquired a network of “groupies.”
On Thursday, jurors heard testimony from Nassau County Police Detective Sally Grathwohl, who interviewed one of the alleged victims when she came forward to police in May 2012. Prosecutors say the girl – whose identity is being witheld because she is the possible victim of a sex crime – told investigators she was victimized in April and May 2012. She allegedly told police that Torres allegedly grabbed the young girl’s hips and “started bumping” her with a bulge in his pants, the detective testified. She said Torres led the girl into his van, exposed himself and had the young girl touch him.
During cross examination, Grathwohl said the interview had not been recorded on video and did not say why the case wasn’t investigated by Special Victims Squad detectives, a specialized unit in the police department that usually handles sex crimes. She said the young girl told the detectives: “I know the difference between a truth and a lie and this is the truth.” Torres was arrested several hours later.
UPDATE [7-18-14, 11:30 a.m.]: Rice spokesman Paul Leonard provided the following statement on Friday: “Mr. Smith was not the attorney for Mr. Torres two years ago and has his facts all wrong. After Mr. Torres was arrested for the abuse of one victim, prosecutors told him as long ago as July 2012 about being aware of five other potential victims. One of those five is now included in the current indictment.”