A former school bus driver charged with kidnapping and raping a 13-year-old special needs student in 1998 has faced a Massachusetts judge following ihs extradition after being arrested in the Dominican Republic.
Henry Gonzalez, 44, formely of Lynn, was ordered to be held without bail during his arraignment on Friday in Salem Superior Court.
Prosecutors say the victim and her family were in the courtroom, but had no comment on the development.
Gonzalez, a Dominican citizen, arrived at Logan Airport Thursday night under guard of U.S. deputy marshals before being turned over to state police troopers. He was then taken to the Saugus Police Department, where he was held pending his return to Salem Superior Court to resume criminal proceedings against him.
“No one on the investigative team ever forgot the victim who was so seriously harmed by this violent criminal, and no member of the team ever wavered in their dedication to hauling him out of the shadows where he was hiding and into the light of justice,” said Col. Richard D. McKeon, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police.
Gonzalez, who had been on the Massachusetts most wanted list and was featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted," fled the state before his trial following his arrest nearly two decades ago.
Saugus police said on Dec. 16, 1998, they received a report that a 13-year-old female special needs student had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted by her bus driver.
An investigation led to the arrest of Gonzalez, and was indicted on two counts of rape of a child by force, two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and kidnapping.
A trial was scheduled for June 2000 in Essex Superior Court but Gonzalez did not appear and a warrant was subsequently issued for his arrest.
Authorities said Gonzalez was found in the Dominican Republic in late May through a joint local-state-federal investigation. His extradition was completed Thursday night.
"Today, I want to commend the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, the investigators with the Massachusetts State Police, the Saugus Police Department, and the deputies of the United States Marshals Service for their steadfast commitment to ensuring Henry Gonzalez be held accountable for the crimes for which he has been sought since 2000," said John Gibbons, U.S. Marshal for the District of Massachusetts. "I hope this arrest brings some measure of closure to the victim and affected family members who have waited 17 years for justice in this case."
"This man committed a heinous act, betraying the trust placed in him by the victim, her family and the community as a whole," Saugus Police Chief Domenic DiMella added. "For nearly 20 years, he’s evaded the law, and it is through the hard work and tireless efforts of Saugus Police Detectives, the Massachusetts State Police, the United States Marshals Services and the Essex County District Attorney’s Office that this man is now being held accountable for his actions today."