SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y. - A Riverhead man was sentenced this week to 23 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old in a store parking lot.
According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, in March 2021, 37-year-old Jose Carabantes Pineda drove the child to a Big Lots parking lot in Riverhead, where he bound her with duct tape and sexually assaulted her in the back of a minivan.
Investigators said the child screamed and banged on the windows as she tried to fight him off, prompting a passerby to knock on the van’s dark windows out of concern.
The good Samaritan called 911 and gave a description of the minivan as he tried to follow Carabantes Pineda. Police said Carabantes Pineda returned to his home and forced the child into a different vehicle. From there, he drove around and tried to coach her on what to tell authorities. He said she should tell police that she was screaming because they had sideswiped another car.
Police arrested Carabantes Pineda minutes after he returned to his home. Investigators found pieces of duct tape used to bind the girl’s hands in both vehicles, and a forensic exam found Carabantes Pineda’s DNA on the child’s body.
Investigators later learned that he’d been sexually abusing the child for months. Carabantes Pineda pleaded guilty to criminal sexual act in the first degree. A judge also ordered 20 years of supervision after his release from prison.
"The bravery of this young victim to fight back against her abuser, the quick reaction of a Good Samaritan, and the swift response by the Riverhead Police Department are the reason this predator was apprehended," District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney said in a prepared statement. "The fact that there are individuals who prey on innocent children like this, is just incomprehensible."