Flatiron District building super accused of raping undocumented immigrant who cleaned apartments

ByAaron Katersky WABC logo
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
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NEW YORK (WABC) -- A building superintendent pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges he raped, sexually abused and coerced an undocumented immigrant who cleaned apartments in the Flatiron building where he worked.

The alleged abuse occurred over a six-year period when prosecutors said Jose Espinoza, 54, used threats and violence to prevent the victim, who has a special needs child, from leaving.

According to court documents, he offered money in exchange for sex if she agreed to clean apartments in his building.

In 2018, Espinoza started to assault and beat the woman and initiated a campaign of control by demanding she send him photographs over text so he could determine her whereabouts, prosecutors said.

Espinoza is charged with labor trafficking, rape, aggravated sexual abuse, criminal sex act and assault.

"These alleged acts are absolutely horrendous, and I cannot imagine the physical, emotional and mental trauma this survivor continues to experience. It took extraordinary strength and courage for her to come forward and our team of specially trained prosecutors, investigators and social workers will support her with every resource we have available," said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

In the spring of 2022, the victim was diagnosed with breast cancer and disclosed her abuse to a social worker at Bellevue Hospital after several months of treatment. She began to bring clothing and personal objects to the hospital every time she had an appointment.

According to prosecutors, when it was safe for her to alert law enforcement, the NYPD was notified, and Espinoza was arrested. Detectives found he kept a camera focused on a piggy bank where he put the woman's earnings and tracked her location using the "Find my Friends" app on his phone.

Prosecutors asked for remand but Espinoza was released on $200,000 cash bond.

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