The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 12, 2014

Arrest warrant issued in statutory rape case

By Dan Nienaber

---- — ST. PETER — A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a 21-year-old St. Peter man facing felony charges for the alleged statutory rape of a 15-year-old girl.

The victim's mother had reported her concerns about the relationship to St. Peter police in November, but no investigation was started because she didn't provide follow-up information, according to the complaint filed in Nicollet County District Court. When the victim was interviewed by police later, she said she didn't start having intercourse with the suspect until January.

The victim reported the situation on March 19 to Thomas Winsell, a police officer working as a liaison at St. Peter High School. The victim contacted Winsell initially to report she was having problems with a man who wouldn't stop sending text messages to her. She told Winsell the man was threatening to post a picture of women's underwear on Facebook and claim they belonged to her.

When Winsell read the texts on the girl's cellphone, he found messages that suggested she and the man, identified as Edgar Javier Garza, had been having sex. There was no evidence the intercourse had been forced, but it is illegal for an adult to have consensual sex with a 15-year-old in Minnesota.

The girl eventually told Winsell that she had met Garza in June by chatting with him on Facebook. They didn't meet in person until the following fall and were dating in October, she said. The girl also said Garza knew her age, according to the criminal complaint. They started having sex in January and Garza and the girl had intercourse about 10 times before she insisted they stop in February, the complaint said. The incidents took place at two residences within the St. Peter city limits.

When Winsell later talked to St. Peter Det. Travis Sandland about the allegations made by the girl, Sandland said he had been contacted by the girl's mother in November. She told Sandland she was concerned about her daughter's relationship with Garza and was asked to call back with more information so an investigation could be started. She didn't call back, according to the complaint.

Garza called Sandland around that same time to find out if police were looking for him. He was told an investigation hadn't started and was warned that it would be illegal for a man his age to have sex with a 15-year-old girl, the complaint said. Garza told Sandland he and the girl were only friends, Sandland reported.

During a second interview with Sandland later on March 19, the girl said Garza refused to leave her alone and had been harassing her since February. While Sandland was interviewing the girl, he was contacted by Garza and he asked Sandland why police officers were looking for him. Sandland told Garza he needed to talk to him in person and Garza would likely be arrested. Garza ended the telephone call.

Garza called Sandland again March 19, allegedly admitted to having intercourse with the girl and said the girl's mother knew about it. He also said the girl was harassing him, the complaint said. Garza said he would turn himself in after making arrangements with his employer but called back later and implied he had decided to go to Texas or Mexico instead, Sandland reported.

Sandland requested an arrest warrant April 1 because officers have not been able to locate Garza, the complaint said. He had not been arrested as of Friday, according to court records.