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Drive triggers memory of sexual assault

A 17-year-old girl’s memory was recently jarred after she drove past a church and saw a home on the property where she remembered being sexually assaulted when she was 5.

According to a Las Vegas police report obtained Tuesday, the teen’s Aug. 10 drive with her mother past the St. Viator Catholic Community, on Flamingo Road near Eastern Avenue brought back horrifying memories of her July, 12, 1998, unsolved kidnapping and sexual assault.

“She got a bad feeling when she looked to the rear of the church and noticed the small house area with the garage and fence,” the report said.

That recollection was a catalyst for Friday’s arrest of 71-year-old Ivan Perez, who also goes by Fermin Ivan Perez, according to public records.

Perez was being held Tuesday night without bail in the Clark County Detention Center on 10 recommended counts of sexual assault and a charge of kidnapping.

The report said that during the summer of 1998, the girl was with a friend at a playground in the area of Desert Inn and Boulder Highway when she was approached by a shirtless man who lured her into his car with the promise of baseball cards.

The report said that once inside the car, described as a gold vehicle, Perez sexually assaulted the child. He also put a blanket over her head until he drove her to a residence and then sexually assaulted her in a bathtub, the report said.

The victim told detectives in 1998 that she remembered the suspect using a key to open a gate, which allowed access from the garage into a courtyard. The attacker then led her into a single-story home, which was white with a red roof.

The report said the child recalled there was a woman in the home who spoke Spanish with Perez.

After Perez assaulted the girl, he drove her less than a half mile from the church and dropped her off, the report said. The girl knocked on the door of an apartment, and authorities were contacted.

Police found the girl wearing her own shirt, no panties, no shorts and a large adult T-shirt. Police tested the shirt for DNA, which later was matched to Perez’s DNA, the report said. The report did not disclose when the DNA match was returned.

On Aug. 27, police met with the victim, her mother and the Rev. Richard Rinn, who is the resident caretaker at the church.

During the walk through the church property, the teen told police she remembered the garage and gate that the attacker had used a key to open. She told police she remembered the courtyard between the garage and the house as being mostly grass. It is now covered in concrete.

Once inside the home on the property, the teenager was overcome by emotions.

“She became visibly upset and started to cry,” the report said.

She escorted detectives down the hallway and pointed to the first door on the right. “That’s the bathroom,” she told police.

The room was a bathroom. The report said the teen also recognized the kitchen and living room area.

She told detectives she was 100 percent positive the home was where she was taken after being kidnapped.

Rinn told investigators there used to be a bathtub in the residence that had been replaced by a shower. He also told them the outside courtyard was covered in grass in 1998. Rinn told police the home in question was occupied both by guests and church employees at various times.

On Sept. 1, police spoke with Brother Michael Rice, who gave them pictures of the church in 1998. Rice told police about Theresa Sever, who was a church cook in 1998. He also told police that Sever had a boyfriend named Ivan.

During a records search, police learned she lived with Perez.

On Thursday, police again interviewed the teen, who picked Perez out of a photo lineup within seconds. She also identified Sever in a photo lineup.

The same day, police applied for a search warrant for Perez’s North Las Vegas home. During an interview, Perez acknowledged that he knows Sever and admitted being at the church on different occasions.

He also told police he had owned a gold 1970 Lincoln that he sold in 1999.

He denied any involvement in the 1998 kidnapping and sexual assault.

Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638.

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