A former Metro Transit police officer in Minnesota was arrested and charged with assaulting a six-year-old child last week. The charge comes just two years after he pleaded guilty to felony possession of child pornography, a charge for which he was sentenced to just 15 days in jail and served on work release.
Local station KARE 11 first reported the 2016 child pornography Monday night after the former officer, Abraham Torrez, was arrested again last week. A teenage girl alleges that Torrez molested her for years and that the abuse began when she was just six or seven years old.
When he was questioned in January 2016 by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), Torrez was asked whether he had ever touched a child sexually. Torrez said he hadn’t. But the BCA did discover images of “very young” boys and girls being raped and tortured.
When they questioned him, the BCA investigators were aware that Torrez was a Metro Transit officer.
“You know your rights. You’re a cop. You’ve probably said them a million times,” one BCA investigator tells Torrez in a recording obtained by KARE 11.
“We’re trying to be as discreet as possible because of your position,” another tells him.
Torrez was quietly fired by Metro Transit and pleaded guilty to felony possession of child pornography. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom asked for a sentence of 30 days, but the former officer was sentenced by Judge Tim Wermager to just 15 days in county jail to be served on work release.
On top of the light sentence, if Torrez successfully completed probation, his record would reflect only a misdemeanor charge rather than the felony conviction to which he pleaded guilty.
In an interview with KARE 11, Backstrom denied that Torrez’s light sentence had anything to do with his position as a police officer, telling the station it was a “typical plea that’s offered in cases of that nature under those circumstances.”
According to the station, 90 percent of people in Minnesota convicted of child pornography possession never spend a day in jail. For those who do, the average sentence in the state is just 68 days in local jail. However, the reporter who uncovered the conviction said on Monday night’s broadcast that after combing through thousands of convictions, he found none as light as Torrez’s.
Court records reportedly allege that once Torrez got his plea bargain and was placed on probation, the molestation — which had begun before 2016 — continued. KARE 11 asked the DA if the child who says Torrez abused her could have been spared of some of the alleged abuse if he had not been given such a light sentence two years ago.
“Listen, Mr. Torrez was not cut a break,” Backstrom said. “He was given an appropriate offer that was consistent with other cases of this nature.”