Austin police say 'ice cream man' assaulted girl in van

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by Shannon Murray / KVUE.com

KVUE.com

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 8:37 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 30 at 8:37 AM

AUSTIN, Texas -- Police arrested a man after they say he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl in his van.

Police charged 52-year-old Benigno Flores with aggravated sexual assault of a child earlier this week. They say doctors diagnosed a young girl with a sexually transmitted disease, and then she described how her neighbor, "the ice cream man," sexually assaulted her in his van more than once.

Two ice cream trucks sit outside Flores' home in the Tejas Mobile Plaza trailer park. It's why many neighbors and children here know him.

"He's quiet...he looks nice, you know?" said neighbor Victor Martinez.

They don't know much about him other than that.

"[He's] friendly," said neighbor Gloria Morales.

But many, including Morales, allowed their children to stop by the home for a treat.

"Yes, sometimes. One or two times for the week," she said.

Monday night, instead of children at the home, they saw police.

"When I saw the cops and all that I said, 'What's wrong?' Because here, it's so quiet, you know? I saw that yesterday I said, 'Wow, I don't know,'" Martinez said.

Police say Flores invited the 11-year-old girl to sit in the van with him between August and September of last year. When she reached to get an ice cream out of the freezer in the back, he grabbed her wrists and sexually assaulted her.

According to the arrest affidavit, she said it happened two other times.

"He was using this ice cream truck as a front for committing the acts he was committing," said Austin Police Detective Brandon Poe.

Poe said he drove the van in other neighborhoods, but it's not clear where. Now they're asking parents to talk to their children

"We are concerned that there are other children that might possibly be victimized by him," Poe said.

Police acted quickly to arrest him. Police say he's a flight risk.

"He was either in the process of being deported or was deported quite a few years ago," Poe said.

Neighbors are shocked to hear the friendly neighborhood ice cream man might not be the person they thought.

"I am very afraid," Morales said.

"I'm surprised. I don't know really what to say but I'm surprised," Martinez said.

Flores is in jail on a $150,000 bond. Police also placed an Immigration and Naturalization Service detainer on him.

Detectives said they are not releasing his picture at this time because if another victim comes forward they want them to identify him in a photo lineup.

Both ice cream vans have expired food vendor permits on them.

Police say that's not the focus of the investigation at this point, and they're unsure if Health and Human Services will get involved.

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