Bemidji police provide update on sexual assault of 11-year-old girl
Bemidji police released updated information on the arrest of a man accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old two weeks ago.
In a Facebook post shared Wednesday, Chief of Police Mike Mastin provided more information on the search of the home where she was allegedly assaulted.
Police say several immigrants lacking permanent legal status were found inside the home.
As previously reported, on Sept. 23, officers from the Bemidji Police Department (BPD) responded to Sanford Bemidji Emergency Department on a report of a sexual assault victim, according to a criminal complaint.
The victim told law enforcement that she had been staying with a relative, who made her get into a vehicle with men in it. The victim said the men put a bag over her head, brought her to a home, pushed her down the stairs, and tied her up. The complaint added that her relative then forced her to drink alcohol.
The victim said a man called “Panda” — later identified as 22-year-old Oscar Ernesto Luna — sexually assaulted her. The victim added that four other men were present at the time and an unidentified number of men also assaulted her.
The victim had cuts on her body and told medical officials that she was in pain, according to the complaint.
The complaint states that officers matched the victim’s description of the alleged assailant with Luna, who has several unique face tattoos and piercings. Law enforcement say they searched a home on the 1800 block of America Court Northwest for eight hours and found evidence related to the assault.
Police also found one of the women described by the victim during the search. The woman said she was not assaulted and told officials she was not aware of a third victim. Law enforcement says they did not locate a third victim in the home but are still investigating the possibility of there being a third victim.
The Facebook post from the Bemidji Police Department said 12 other people were found in the home. The U.S. Border Patrol was called in to help because of a language barrier, Bemidji officials said. U.S. Border Patrol then took 11 of the 12 people into custody.
BPD said those 11 people were “not immediately identified as suspects” in the assault but they are still investigating any possible involvement they may have had.
Officials say the incident appears to be isolated.
Luna had two active warrants out for his arrest related to DWI charges. He denied assaulting the victim but admitted to knowing the victim’s relative and talking with them on Facebook Messenger.
Luna was arrested and charged by the Beltrami County Attorney’s Office with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, court records show.
Jorge Prince, the Mayor of Bemidji, said in a Facebook post on Sept. 29, “Deeply concerning news for our community. I am heartbroken for the victim and their family. My thoughts and prayers are with them. We need to find answers.”
The Facebook post from the Bemidji Police Department can be read in full below:
Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Bemidji Police Department at 218-333-9111.