A Mastic Beach man was indicted Thursday on multiple charges of raping an underage girl he befriended on the social-media forum Snapchat, authorities said.
Renato Oliva Garcia, 22, faces charges of first- and second-degree rape as well as first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of the child, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini said in a statement.
Oliva Garcia had a virtual arraignment Thursday, prosecutors said. His bail was set at $50,000 cash, $100,000 bond, or $150,000 partially-secured bond. Oliva Garcia had not posted bail as of Thursday afternoon, according to court records. A temporary order of protection was also issued in the case, records said.
His defense attorney Luigi Belcastro, whose office is in Central Islip, could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday.
Sini said Oliva Garcia made sexual contact with the victim at his home on March 15 after picking the child up near her home. Oliva Garcia spoke with the girl on Snapchat for several weeks before setting up a face-to-face meeting, prosecutors said.
Earlier in March, Sini said, the Mastic Beach man picked up the girl outside her home. He then took the girl back to his home and later dropped her off at school, Sini said, adding that Oliva Garcia groomed his victim over the social-media platform. Suffolk police arrested him on March 17, prosecutors said.
The indictment should serve as a warning for parents to be hyper-aware of who their children communicate with online, Sini said.
“This is a very concerning trend law enforcement is seeing where alleged predators are able to communicate with minors through social media and gain their trust before convincing them to meet in person,” Sini said. “As parents, we all need to stay vigilant in monitoring our children’s social media usage and talking to them about internet safety. Should any child in Suffolk County be preyed upon and victimized by someone they meet online, rest assured my Office will prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law.”
If convicted on the first-degree rape charge, Oliva Garcia could be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in prison, Sini said.
Oliva Garcia is scheduled to return to court April 27, officials said.