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Teenagers arrested in arson



Published: Sat, July 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tension against Hispanics is rising because of the rape, leading to events such as this.

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) -- Two teenagers have been arrested in the arson of the home of an Hispanic man suspected of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old Caucasian girl, police said Friday.

Police said one of the teens is Hispanic, the other Caucasian. People in the city's fast-growing Hispanic community have complained of being targeted for intimidation since the sexual assault.

"Rapest" and "child molester" were spray-painted on the house and windows were broken out after the sexual assault was reported June 19, and the house was set on fire two days later. Investigators didn't provide details of the arson fire, which heavily damaged the house and also scorched the side of the Living Water Ministry office building next door. However, they said they expect to make more arrests.

Rising tensions

Hispanics in the neighborhood said they were threatened and some people in Ku Klux Klan garb came into the neighborhood, near the city's downtown.

"Our point has always been that the Hispanic community is just as upset as any other community residents," police Sgt. Tom Kilgour said of the sexual assault.

City officials and police have worked to calm tensions in the neighborhood and community leaders have held forums to promote dialogue in the racially diverse area.

Kilgour said the suspects, ages 15 and 17, were arrested two weeks ago and remain in the Butler County juvenile center.

"We want the community to know what we are actively involved in this case," Kilgour said.

He said police are still appealing for information about the rape suspect, identified as Alfredo Lopez Cruz. Police issued warrants on rape and kidnapping charges last month for Cruz, who police said had used several aliases and was identified by residents of the neighborhood.

Police believe that Cruz fled the area soon after the sexual assault.




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