Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Felipe Vazquez charged with solicitation of a child

The 28-year-old "had a reported sexual relationship with a 13-year old female victim," according to police in Florida.
Image: St Louis Cardinals  v Pittsburgh Pirates
Felipe Vazquez was arrested at his apartment in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.Justin Berl / Getty Images

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By David K. Li and Doha Madani

All-Star Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Felipe Vazquez was arrested for allegedly exchanging obscene material with an underaged girl, dating back to when she was just 13, authorities said Tuesday.

The 28-year-old Vazquez, who makes his off-season home in Saint Cloud, Florida, was booked for solicitation of a child, providing obscene material to minors and possession of computer pornography, according to a statement by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

He was arrested at about 11 a.m. in his Pittsburgh apartment on Tuesday. He made a brief appearance in court about five hours later, when a judge denied him bail.

The relief pitcher has been under investigation since August "after agents obtained information that Vazquez had a reported sexual relationship with a 13-year old female victim who resides in Lee County," according the Florida Department of Law Enforcement statement.

"The victim, now 15 years of age, was continuing to have a relationship with Vazquez via text messaging and received a video in July from him in which he is shown performing a sex act," the Florida state police said.

"Additionally, Vazquez allegedly sent the victim text messages suggesting they would meet for sex after his baseball season was over."

Vazquez was taken to the Allegheny County Jail and prosecutors will seek to have him extradited to Lee County, Florida, where the case will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 20th Judicial Circuit.

A heavily redacted arrest warrant affidavit from the Lee County Sheriff's Office included at least two blacked-out still pictures, allegedly sent by Vazquez to the minor.

"Although the photographs and video did not depict the suspect's face, the images depicted numerous tattoos about the suspect's body" and they match "publicly available images of the suspect," according to the affidavit signed by Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Orlando Esquibel and Lee County Judge Tara Paluck.

"The victim's mother discovered the messages, photographs, and video the suspect sent the victim," the warrant continued. "On July 23, 2019, the victim's mother sent a text message to include a screen shot of the photographs to the suspect informing him the victim was a minor."

A deputy report from Lee County alleges that Vazquez met the victim at PNC Stadium in Pennsylvania, where the Pirates play, and took a photograph outside the bullpen and then later connected on social media.

The victim claimed that the pitcher allegedly drove to her old residence, "pulled her pants down while they were inside his car, placed the victim on top of his lap" and attempted to have sexual intercourse with her, according to the deputy report.

Pirates President Frank Coonelly in a statement Tuesday said that the team takes "this matter, and these charges in particular, extremely seriously."

Charges were also filed against Vazquez in Westmoreland County in Pennsylvania stemming from an offense on August 1, 2018, according to court records. Vazquez was charged with statutory sexual assault, indecent assault of a person less than 16 years of age, corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor.

NBC affiliate WPXI in Pittsburgh reports that the charges in Westmoreland stem from the same case filed in Lee County.

Vazquez's agent didn't immediately comment. Major League Baseball Players Association declined comment.

Vazquez, playing for the last-place Pirates, has become one of baseball's best relief pitchers. A two-time All-Star, he is in the midst of a four-year, $22 million contract that will pay him $4.5 million this season and $5.75 million in 2020.

Vazquez hasn't pitched since last week.