Former Pittsburgh Pirates Pitcher Felipe Vazquez Convicted of Statutory Sexual Assault
Felipe Vazquez, a former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, was found guilty of multiple felony counts of sexually abusing and assaulting a minor.
Vazquez, 29, was convicted on 15 counts late Thursday night in Pennsylvania. He was found guilty of statutory sexual assault, corruption of a minor, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault on an individual under the age of 16, two counts of unlawful contact with a minor, and ten counts of sexually abusing children. He was acquitted of ten additional counts of unlawful contact with a minor.
Vazquez was charged in connection with sexual contact and messages he exchanged with the girl, who was 13 years old when they met in 2017. Vazquez was suspended by the Pirates and Major League Baseball in 2019 following his arrest.
Vazquez maintained contact with the girl following her family's move from Pennsylvania to Lee County, Florida in 2018. He maintained throughout his trial that the girl deceived him about her age, claiming that he believed she was 18.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, defense attorney Gary Gerson called the girl a "liar" and described the case as one of "reverse grooming," in which "a child grooms an adult." Vazquez contended that he was shown identification indicating that she was of consenting age. The girl, now 17, testified that his claim was false, and no additional evidence in support of the claim was presented.
The girl initially reached out to Vazquez via Instagram with a happy birthday message. At least two Pirates players were contacted via social media, including Vazquez. She was a fan of the team, attending multiple games in person, and testified before the court that contacting a player made her feel "like the coolest kid in the world."
Vazquez initiated physical sexual contact with the girl after driving to her Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania home in 2017. The pair's relationship was discovered after the girl's mother discovered messages and photographs exchanged between them.
Although Vazquez maintained that he believed the girl was an adult, he referred to her in multiple messages as a "kid," according to The New York Post. He reportedly told the girl in a 2019 message that she was no longer the "little kid I met three years ago." He is said to have referred to the girl in other messages as his "slave" and "possession."
Vazquez is currently awaiting sentencing and could face decades in prison. Additional charges in Florida and Missouri stemming from his relationship with the same girl are pending. He could also be deported to Venezuela following the completion of any sentences.