A Long Island sexual assault defendant was sentenced to more than two decades in prison after admittedly tying a 10-year-old girl up in a Big Lots parking lot and attacking her in the back of a minivan.

Jose Carabantes Pineda, a 37-year-old Riverhead resident, was caught sexually assaulting the victim on March 20, 2021 because the girl fought back and a Good Samaritan did not hesitate to act, prosecutors said.

“According to the investigation and the defendant’s guilty plea, on March 20, 2021, Carabantes Pineda drove the 10-year-old victim to the parking lot of the Big Lots store in Riverhead, bound her with duct tape, and sexually assaulted her in the back of a minivan,” the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release. “The child screamed and banged on the windows of the vehicle in hopes that someone would help her as she attempted to fight the defendant off of her.”

“A Good Samaritan heard the child screaming from inside the minivan and knocked on the heavily tinted and fogged windows out of concern,” prosecutors continued, noting that the male witness called 911 and tried to follow Pineda’s minivan.

Authorities said that Pineda drove from the Big Lots parking lot in Riverhead and swapped out his minivan for a different vehicle and drove around — all while attempting to coach the young girl into lying about why she was screaming. The story he tried to get her to tell? That she was screaming after they sideswiped a car with the minivan.

This story was both unconvincing and short-lived.

“Upon their return to his home minutes later, the defendant was arrested by the Riverhead Police Department. During the investigation, pieces of duct tape that had been used to bind the child’s hands was recovered from both vehicles,” prosecutors said. A sexual assault exam confirmed that Pineda’s DNA was on the young girl’s body.

Prosecutors further said that Pineda had, in fact, been sexually abusing the girl for months.

In late February, Pineda decided to plead guilty to a felony sex crime.

Prosecutors said that Judge Karen M. Wilutis on Thursday sentenced Pineda to serve 23 years in state prison plus 20 years of supervised release once his incarceration ends.

New York law says that a person commits a criminal sexual act in the first degree when engaging in “oral sexual conduct or anal sexual conduct with another person” under the age of 11.

Suffolk County DA Raymond A. Tierney praised the “bravery” of the young victim and the Good Samaritan who leapt into action to save her.

“The bravery of this young victim to fight back against her abuser, the quick reaction of a Good Samaritan, and the swift response by the Riverhead Police Department are the reason this predator was apprehended,” Tierney said in a statement. “The fact that there are individuals who prey on innocent children like this, is just incomprehensible. But make no mistake, once we catch them, like this defendant, we will do everything in our power to ensure they serve a lengthy prison sentence.”

Original Article