Harrisonburg: Man found guilty of 19 sexual assault felonies from the 1980s
A truly awful story comes to us from Harrisonburg, where a man who adopted multiple children in Uruguay and brought them to the United States has been found guilty of 19 counts of sexual assault dating back to the 1980s.
The case against Alvaro Fernandez, 75, came to light in 2019, when a sexual assault victim contacted the Harrisonburg Police Department to report that Fernandez had sexually abused him in Harrisonburg from 1982 to 1986.
A detective from HPD’s Crimes Against Children Unit, which is a member of the Northern Virginia Washington, D.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, launched a criminal investigation.
In the course of the investigation, detectives learned that Fernandez had adopted multiple children in Uruguay and brought several with him to the United States. According to multiple interviews with various victims both locally and abroad, Fernandez physically and sexually abused and exploited children under his control.
HPD and HSI detectives traveled in June 2019 to Florida, where they interviewed and arrested Fernandez. He was then extradited to Virginia to stand trial.
After a two-day trial in Rockingham County Circuit Court last week, a jury found Alvaro Fernandez guilty of all 19 felony charges. Fernandez was found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child under the age of 13 and three counts of sodomy of a child under the age of 13.
He is in custody at the Rockingham County Jail as he awaits sentencing in July.
Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Alycia Eldridge asked the jury for justice for the victim.
“I hope that this verdict is inspiring for victims to see that justice can happen even after so much time and that it is never too late to come forward,” Eldridge said after the verdict.
Virginia law does not have a statute of limitations for felony prosecutions. Victims are encouraged to report crimes to police and to seek counseling and advocacy services. Locally, victims can contact the Collins Center and Child Advocacy Center at 540-434-2272.