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Police: MS-13 member lures 15-year-old girl into Gaithersburg apartment, tries to rape her

Erick Benitez-Amaya remains in custody on a no-bond status. (Photo: Montgomery County Police Department).
Erick Benitez-Amaya remains in custody on a no-bond status. (Photo: Montgomery County Police Department).
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A known MS-13 member lured a 15-year-old girl into an apartment where he would have raped her if not for FaceTime, Montgomery County Police allege in court filings.

Erick Benitez-Amaya, 24, of Grantchester Place in Gaithersburg, is currently facing charges of attempted second-degree rape, third-degree sex offense, and second-degree assault.

Shortly before midnight on May 8, Montgomery County patrol officers were dispatched to the sexual assault call on Lost Knife Circle in Gaithersburg, near the Lakeforest Mall. As units rolled up, the alleged victim and a witness pointed at Benitez-Amay who was standing nearby. The 24-year-old suspect ran away, prompting uniformed officers to chase after him, ultimately catching up.

A detective with Montgomery County's Child Exploitation Unit interviewed the teenage girl. She explained that four men, including Benitez-Amaya, approached her near the community pool and struck up a conversation. That conversation resulted in the girl being led to a second-story apartment where Benitez-Amaya allegedly took the girl to a bedroom.

"The defendant began pulling the top of victim 1's shirt and her jacket, trying to touch her chest," police wrote in charging documents. "He then removed his [genitals] from his pants and began touching his [genitals] in front of her."

Benitez-Amaya proceeded to place the girl's hand on his genitals while pinning her to the bed, and also tried to pull down her pants, the 15-year-old victim recounted to detectives.

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"She was screaming and unable to get away from the defendant," police added, noting that Benitez-Amaya referred to the victim as "baby" during the sexual assault. "The defendant then grabbed a condom. The victim called a friend utilizing FaceTime and stated that she was being held against her will."

That friend contacted another person who beelined to the apartment where they reportedly heard the victim screaming "let me go!" A short while later, the victim managed to escape from the apartment.

Police say Benitez-Amaya agreed to provide a statement after being read his Miranda rights. While providing that statement, Benitez-Amaya explained he met the girl near the pool and that she agreed to return to his mother's apartment. While at the apartment, the two hugged, but there was no additional physical contact, Benitez-Amaya claimed.

According to law enforcement records, Benitez-Amaya is a known member of the street gang MS-13. He also has a criminal record in Maryland.

In January 2018, Montgomery County Police charged Benitez-Amaya, then 20, with consuming alcohol in a public place. A judge fined him $72 and placed him on probation.

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In May 2020, Montgomery County Police charged Benitez-Amaya with second-degree assault. Benitez-Amaya spent 60 days in jail before pleading guilty in August 2020 and getting released. A judge placed Benitez-Amaya on probation through August of this year.

On May 8 of this year — three months before that probation was set to expire — Benitez-Amaya is said to have lured the teen into his mother's apartment and attempted to rape her. Citing the severity of the allegations, the court ordered Benitez-Amaya remain in custody on a no-bond status.

Court records indicate Benitez-Amaya is a native of El Salvador and had been living with his aunt on Grantchester Place in Gaithersburg. He worked as a carpenter, earning around $140 per day, court documents further note.

Reached by telephone Wednesday, defense attorney Vernon Brownlee stated his client denies all allegations in the criminal case. A three-day jury trial is scheduled for late November in Montgomery County Circuit Court. The 24-year-old defendant faces up to 40 years in prison.


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