An investigation by Tisbury Police into the alleged sexual assault of a child has resulted in the arrest of a Tisbury man sought for deportation by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to court records.
Jose Matos, also known as Wilson Matos, of Tisbury was arraigned Friday on three sexual assault charges in Edgartown District Court. Mr. Matos was charged with rape of a child by force, indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, and assault and battery.
The court entered not-guilty pleas for the 49-year old native of Brazil. He was ordered held at the Dukes County House of Corrections, on $20,000 bail. The child in the case was nine years old at the time the incident took place.
At the time of his arrest, a routine check of federal records revealed that ICE had issued a detainee order for Mr. Matos, requesting that local authorities hold him for 48 hours. The detainee order already includes an order of deportation.
An ICE spokesman explained the general procedure for this sort of case. “When they complete their local or state custody, they will come into ICE custody,” said Harold Ort. “They are generally removed.”
Mr. Ort said privacy issues prevent him from confirming or denying whether Mr. Matos was previously deported from the United States.
Mr. Matos remains in custody at the Dukes County Jail.
According to the police report, the child revealed the alleged assault to a therapist. The therapist then reported the allegations to police and other agencies, as required by law.
According to the report, the child, then nine, and her mother lived in the basement apartment of a house in Tisbury. Mr. Matos lived in an adjoining part of the house with a separate entrance. He was an acquaintence of the mother and attended the same church.
Her mother hired Mr. Matos to hang kitchen cabinets in the house. She left her child watching television to go to the hardware store. That is when the assault occurred, police allege.
According to the report, the child, now 12, told no one of the assault for nearly three years. In May of this year, the child revealed the incident to her mother and her counselor.
Tisbury police detective Mark Santon investigated the allegations. He wrote in his report that he was shown a picture of the defendant. “I viewed photographs of ‘Wilson’ and I saw a man I recognized as having been seen many times in Tisbury,” Det. Santon wrote. “Wilson is also commonly known as Jose Matos.”
According to the report, the child’s parent told police “that Matos is well known in the Brazilian community because in the late 1990s he was arrested for counterfeiting money and jailed for several months before he was deported to Brazil.” The parent said “that Matos then came back into the U.S. via Mexico, and the Brazilian community was well aware that he was back on Martha’s Vineyard as if nothing ever happened.”
At the time of his arrest, Mr. Matos had a Social Security number, a valid Massachusetts driver’s license, and a legally registered vehicle. Police and registry officials expressed surprise that Mr. Matos would have been able to circumvent safeguards in place to prevent fraud.
After staking out Mr. Matos’ apartment on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, Det. Santon approached Mr. Matos and asked him to come to the Tisbury police station. According to the report, Mr. Matos voluntarily agreed to the police interview, but denied the child’s account of his actions.
Following that June 13 interview, Det. Santon placed Mr. Matos under arrest and transported him to the Dukes County Jail where he remains in custody.
Many questions remain about how Mr. Matos was able to obtain a valid Social Security number, driver’s license, and vehicle registration.
“He has a Social Security number that originates in New Hampshire,” Det. Santon said. “I was very surprised to see he had a Massachusetts driver’s license. It’s an ongoing investigation.”
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Registry Division could not explain how Mr. Matos got the legitimate documents.
“He’s been in our system since 1993,” said registry spokesman Ann Dufresne. “He met all of the standards at the time.” Registry records show Mr. Matos renewed his license in 2007, a procedure that is automatic unless there are outstanding traffic tickets or other violations.
Since Mr. Matos entered the registry system, new safeguards have been implemented that might have alerted authorities.
“We’ve been increasing our security standards over the last ten years,” Ms. Dufresne said. “In 2002, we instituted electronic reconciliation with the Social Security database. We have facial recognition that is done on every single photograph. That’s done to prohibit multiple identities.”
State Representative Tim Madden, whose district includes Martha’s Vineyard, was also surprised to hear about the circumstances surrounding Mr. Matos.
“It shouldn’t happen,” Rep. Madden said. “Clearly we need to do a better job at it.”