Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez ordered to be arraigned in Westmoreland in teen sex case | TribLIVE.com

Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez ordered to be arraigned in Westmoreland in teen sex case

Paul Peirce
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez pitches against the Padres on June 22 at PNC Park.

Felipe Vazquez, the suspended Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher who is accused of sexually assaulting a former Scottdale teenager, will be moved from the Allegheny County Jail to Westmoreland County next week to be arraigned on criminal charges.

President Judge Rita Donovan Hathaway signed an order Friday authorizing sheriff’s deputies to bring Vazquez from the Pittsburgh facility to be arraigned before East Huntingdon District Judge Charles Moore. No hearing date has been scheduled.

In her order, Hathaway said Vazquez will remain in the custody of Westmoreland authorities until possibly Thursday, when he is to be returned to the Allegheny County for further proceedings there.

“The defendant shall not be released from custody under any circumstances,” Hathaway wrote.

State police this week arrested Vazquez and accused him of driving to the girl’s home in Scottdale in August 2017, when she was 13. Vazquez is accused of sexually assaulting the girl in the front seat of his red Ford Mustang in the driveway of her home.

The allegations came to light in August when the girl’s mother found explicit messages on her phone and called police in Florida, where the family now lives. Florida Department of Law Enforcement, or FDLE, reported the situation to Pennsylvania authorities last month, according to Trooper Stephen Limani.

Vazquez, 28, is charged with statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact, corruption of minors and indecent assault in Westmoreland County. His attorney did not immediately return a phone message.

Troopers arrested Vazquez on Tuesday at his apartment in Pittsburgh’s Strip District on a Florida warrant out of Lee County. He has been held in Allegheny County without bail since his arrest.

Vazquez is accused of sending sexually explicit photos to the girl in Lee County and soliciting sex via text message, according to FDLE.

State police said Wednesday that Pennsylvania authorities intend to keep him until the case here is closed.

During an interview with troopers, Vazquez admitted he knew the girl after being shown her photograph, though he initially claimed he refused to communicate with her “due to her age … because she appeared too young and that she appeared to be 16 years of age or younger,” according to court papers.

However, troopers reported evidence the pitcher and the girl exchanged multiple text messages, nude photographs and messages via social media and cellphone through July 2019.

Vazquez admitted to touching the girl and attempting to have sex with her, troopers reported.

An extradition hearing was scheduled for Sept. 25 in Allegheny County court for the Florida charges of giving obscene material to a minor and soliciting a child for unlawful sexual conduct. The current status of that hearing could not be determined Friday afternoon.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said Friday that assistant District Attorney James Lazar who sought the arraignment order before Hathaway has been coordinating the scheduling with Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s staff.

Vazquez, a two-time All-Star, was placed on administrative leave from the Pirates. He was acquired during the 2016 season in a trade with the Washington Nationals.

Last year, the Venezuela native legally changed his name from Felipe Rivero.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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