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Anchorage man plotted to rape girlfriend's daughter, police say

Lisa Demer

A 49-year-old Anchorage man offered earlier this month to rekindle a relationship with a former girlfriend -- but only if she would let him have sex with her 14-year-old daughter, police said Monday.

Instead, the woman called police and agreed to set up a sting to trap him.

Now Ralph Hernandez is jailed on charges of attempted sexual abuse involving the teenager and two counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor for separate assaults involving a 9-year-old girl.

And it's not the first time he's been in this sort of trouble.

In 2007, police said, he drugged his then-girlfriend's 16-year-old daughter and, as she slept, took pictures of the teen unclothed and him touching her. But charges in that case were dropped two days after being filed.

According to the charging document in the new case, the 2007 case appeared to have been dismissed because Hernandez destroyed the evidence by deleting the images from his digital camera.

That girl's mother had found the pictures on Hernandez' digital camera but he grabbed the camera from her hands, a police detective said.

Police say new charges could still be brought in that case.

Hernandez has seven misdemeanor convictions on his record, including stalking, disorderly conduct and violation of domestic violence protective orders, according to a tally by prosecutors. He has worked on the North Slope and also as a used-car salesman. In the 2007 case, he lived with the family of his alleged victim during his two weeks off from the Slope.

Detective Leonard Torres is investigating the incidents from this year as well as cases involving two other possible victims, one dating back 20 years. And police think there may be more.

"Unfortunately, he has been getting away with it," Torres said in a telephone interview. "The more he got away with it, the bolder he became and the more untouchable he felt he was."

The detective called Hernandez "a serial child rapist."

In interviews with police, Hernandez denied sexually abusing any children, according to the charging documents.

In July, police began to focus new attention on Hernandez after receiving the allegations involving the 9-year-old. The girl told a friend that Hernandez was abusing her, Torres said. The friend told a teacher in summer school. A school counselor interviewed the child and she said the sexual abuse was ongoing. The child then told police that he touched her sexually and had her perform oral sex, according to the charging document.

Hernandez was the boyfriend of the 9-year-old's guardian, the charges say.

POLICE DIG DEEPER

As police gathered evidence for that case, they found others in which he had been investigated but not prosecuted. Torres said police made sure the 9-year-old was safe, then began to re-interview the parents of the earlier reported victims.

"What I was trying to do was just build a pyramid of his past rapes and his MO," Torres said.

One was the mother of the 14-year-old girl. The woman had first gone to police about Hernandez in 2010 but no charges were brought, said Torres, who didn't investigate the case initially.

Even as the investigation involving the 9-year-old got under way, Hernandez kept pursuing the 14-year-old, according to the charges.

In August, the mother of the teen told the detective she had dated Hernandez for about four years and near the end of their relationship, he asked repeatedly to have sex with her daughter, according to the charging document. He said he could give the girl a sleeping pill first. The mother said she didn't tell him yes but didn't tell him no, either. She'd make up excuses or argue with him, the charges say.

Hernandez showed the mother child porn on his computer and she told him she didn't want to see it, according to the charging document. She found out he had touched her daughter between the breasts, the charges say. She told police in 2010 about the pornography and the touching but there wasn't enough to charge him, Torres said. She broke up with him soon after the touching incident, she told police.

SECRET RECORDINGS

On Sept. 20, less than two months after being questioned by police about the younger girl, Hernandez contacted the mother of the 14-year-old again. The mother called Torres, who obtained warrants to secretly record conversations between the mother and Hernandez.

In a meeting Thursday that was orchestrated by police, Hernandez gave the woman a sleeping pill to give to her daughter so he could more easily sexually assault her, police said. He also told the mother to get condoms because he was broke. On Friday, he told the woman to give the girl cold medicine in addition to the sleeping pill because he thought the pill might not be strong enough to sedate her, police said.

On Friday night, the man drove his black BMW to a Midtown chain restaurant near the girl's home where he had arranged to meet the mother. They sat in his vehicle and she gave him the condoms.

Undercover officers were watching.

The mother assured Hernandez that she had followed his instructions and sedated her daughter, police said. He walked to the family's home.

Inside there was no girl. She was with a relative in another part of town.

As he opened the door to the teen's bedroom, an Anchorage Police Department SWAT team was waiting for him. Officers later told Torres that Hernandez seemed to be in shock.

Hernandez was being held on $100,000 bail and a requirement for a third party to keep watch over him. Police also obtained search warrants for his computer and camera.

Detectives believe Hernandez may have molested other children and ask anyone with information about additional victims to call Torres at 786-8573.

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.


By LISA DEMER
Anchorage Daily News