Grand Jury indicts 75-year-old Upper East Side man in kidnapping, sex abuse of 5-year-old girl

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Grand Jury files charges against man in kidnapping and child sex assault
An accused Upper East Side pedophile, Franz Vila, was indicted by a grand jury.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A grand jury has handed up an indictment against the 75-year-old man arrested for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl.

Franz Vila, who was seen with the child on surveillance video, had been charged with kidnapping, criminal sex act, predatory sex assault against a child and endangering the welfare of a child.

Officials said last Thursday they believe Vila sexually abused the child at his apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Franz Vila is facing a criminal sex act charge after a 5-year-old girl went missing for hours in Jackson Heights, Queens on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old mother of the 5-year-old was originally charged with endangering the welfare of a child. However, the Queens District Attorney's Office is declining to prosecute her pending further investigation.

It all unfolded when the child was at a Foodtown Supermarket at 76-10 37th Ave. with her mother around 9 a.m. last week.

The mother told police Vila saw them in the supermarket and said her daughter wanted to go to the park, so she agreed to let the 75-year-old man take her.

Eyewitness News spoke to the mother who said she thought Vila was someone she could trust and that she had met a year ago. She said Vila had spent time with her and her daughter at their home.

She says she thought they would be back in half an hour or so, never imagining that the man, who is himself a grandfather, would harm her child.

Vila did not return with the girl and they weren't in the park. That's when the mom said she called police around 1 p.m. last Tuesday to report her daughter missing.

An intense search ensued with dozens of officers fanning out across Jackson Heights, equipped with a Bloodhound seen getting a whiff of a pink blanket to follow the scent.

Police said the girl was found after 4:30 p.m. at the subway station at 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, after a good Samaritan flagged down an officer when he saw the child and man on a platform. It was only a few blocks from the supermarket and the park.

Police now believe Vila and the child were returning from Manhattan. He lives in an apartment on East 97th Street.

The girl is now in the care of her father.

Vila is being held at Riker's Island on a $275,000 bail.

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