Stepfather of rescued Colombian plane crash girls arrested for sexual abuse

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The stepfather of Lesly and Soleiny who survived the Amazon plane crash has been arrested for secual abuse of the girls. Photo: Fiscalia.

The National Attorney General’s Office has arrested the step-father of two of the indigenous girls who were rescued after 40 days lost in the Colombian Amazon. The girls, aged 13 and 11, survived a plane crash in which their mother died, yet managed to keep a younger brother and 11-month-old baby alive. The children remain in the care of the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF).

The four children were inside a single engine Cessna that crashed somewhere between the departments of Guaviare and Caquetá in Eastern Colombia on May 1. The pilot and an adult male from the same indigenous community as the youngsters also lost their lives in the tragic accident.

On June 9, Colombians rejoiced upon receiving the news that four children had been found alive not far from where the accident happened. The miraculous rescue was the result of a concerted effort by more than 120 members of the Colombian Army’s Special Forces, working alongside 80 representatives of different indigenous communities.

The brave youngsters, belonging to the Huitoto tribe suffered from severe dehydration, but were stable enough to be transported by the Army to San José del Guaviare, where military paramedics provided initial care.

After undergoing psychological examinations on Lesly (13) and Soleiny (11), the ICBF found signs of possible sexual abuse and alerted the Attorney General’s Office to open a formal investigation against the family member. The investigation was conducted by a prosecutor from the Center for Attention to Victims of Sexual Abuse (CAIVAS) in the Caquetá department, along with investigators from the Technical Investigation Corps (CTI) and specialized prosecutors from the National Gender Violence Task Group for Crimes Affecting Women, Children, and Adolescents under the Delegation for Territorial Security.

The stepfather is accused of abusing Lesly since she was 10 years old. The reported abuse is believed to have taken place within the indigenous reservation in Solano, Caquetá.

Judicial police apprehended the suspect on August 11 in central Bogotá. The Attorney General’s Office has charged the stepfather for aggravated rape and abusive sexual acts involving minors under the age of 14.

Manuel Ranoque, father of the two youngest survivors – Tien (age 5) and Cristin (11-months), told the media that the four youngsters were fleeing from the internal conflict after FARC dissidents took control of their ancestral territory. Fearing that the children would be forcibly recruited into the guerrilla, relatives attempted to transport the children to a secure city, but tragically, the plane crashed. After more than five harrowing weeks in the Amazon, Lesly saved the lives of her siblings acting as a guide and nurturing figure by foraging for food and drinking water.