WASHINGTON – In a taped interview with police, a man sits on a couch, facing two interviewers. In an almost inaudible voice he says, “I knew it was wrong … her desperation pulled me in.”
Bejarni Rivas, 45, of Gaithersburg, said he knew it was wrong to have sex with a 14-year-old girl, but it’s not clear whether he’s referring to the girl’s desperation or that of her mother, who arranged for the sexual encounters.
Police and prosecutors say Rivas had loaned the girl’s mother $5,000 and, as a way to repay him, she arranged to have the teenager meet him and do whatever he wanted.
But after that confession, Rivas disappeared. Instead, he was tried in absentia in Montgomery County and was convicted on Friday of human trafficking, conspiracy, sexual abuse of a minor and solicitation of sex with a minor.
Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, says Rivas faces nearly 100 years behind bars.
“This is a very dangerous man, a man who was convicted on nine counts, including human trafficking,” Korionoff says.
Police fear Rivas may have fled to Nicaragua, though he is a U.S. citizen and has family here. Korionoff says the girl’s mother was also convicted for her role in the case and faces a similar sentence.
Anyone with information on Rivas’ whereabouts is asked to contact the Montgomery County Police Department.
Watch parts of Rivas’ testimony, courtesy of WJLA, here: