NATIONAL NEWS

Ex-guard at NYC federal building pleads guilty in sex assault of asylum seeker

Apr 10, 2024, 10:37 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — A former security guard at a federal building in New York City where the FBI has its offices pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal charge related to the sexual assault of an asylum seeker.

Jimmy Solano-Arias, 42, of the Bronx, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court to making a false statement to the FBI about the sexual assault, authorities said.

As part of his plea deal, he agreed that federal sentencing guidelines recommend the maximum five-year prison term and that his scheduled July 9 sentencing should proceed under sentencing calculations made as if he had also been convicted of a charge of sexually abusing a vulnerable victim.

Without the plea deal, Solano-Arias could have faced life in prison if he had been convicted of a charge of deprivation of rights under color of law involving kidnapping and aggravated sexual abuse.

Solano-Arias remains free on bail following the May 4, 2023, attack at 26 Federal Plaza, a building across the street from the federal courts complex.

In an appearance before a magistrate judge, Solano-Arias admitted to lying to FBI agents a day after the attack.

He said he “initially said no such act took place.” Then, he added: “I’m sorry.”

Solano-Arias said he was a lawyer in the Dominican Republic before he came to the U.S. and gained citizenship.

He was hired by a company that provides security services at the lower Manhattan building near City Hall, the city’s police headquarters and numerous courts.

In a release, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Solano-Arias had “abused the trust and privileges” of his job.

“Instead of working to keep the many federal employees and visitors at 26 Federal Plaza safe, Solano-Arias exploited his position of authority to sexually abuse an individual seeking asylum protection in the United States,” he said.

According to court documents, Solano-Arias spotted the victim in a line and offered to assist him with paperwork.

He eventually led the man to a locked office on the second floor of the building where he put his hand on his holstered firearm and demanded that the man provide oral sex, a criminal complaint said.

Although he initially resisted, the man complied because he saw Solano-Arias’s hand on his firearm and feared for his life, the complaint said.

After the attack, the man managed to record a brief video on his cellphone of Solano-Arias, and then reported the assault to authorities, the complaint said.

When Solano-Arias arrived for work the next day, federal agents confronted him. After initially denying any encounter with the victim, he later claimed that what occurred was consensual, authorities said.

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Ex-guard at NYC federal building pleads guilty in sex assault of asylum seeker