A lawsuit filed against a West Dundee equestrian center by the family of a girl sexually abused by one of its former workers alleges that facility staff knew about the man's criminal past but hired him anyway and left him unsupervised with minors.
The suit, filed on behalf of a girl named Jane Doe in court papers, argues that Somerset Sporthorse Equestrian Center, 35W414 Lathrop Lane, was negligent and should be held liable for damages.
According to the lawsuit, Vincente Vasquez, 29, formerly of Crystal Lake, was hired by Somerset after being charged with a sex crime in Cook County in 2009 and later pleading guilty to a reduced misdemeanor battery charge. The suit alleges that Vasquez was married to a relative of the owner and allowed unsupervised access to clients with no notification given to parents.
"Somerset did not disclose to the parents of its clients, including the parents of Jane Doe, that underage clients would be left alone and unsupervised with a male adult employee who had a prior criminal sex offense charge," the lawsuit states.
A woman who answered the phone at Somerset said the stable had not been served with the lawsuit and could not comment on it.
Vasquez was arrested in June 2015 and charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a girl between September 2012 through May 2014, records show. He pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse in April 2017 and was sentenced to 3½ years in prison, but after factoring in credit for time served, he was released in late May. He is registered as a sex offender.
The suit alleges that Vasquez repeatedly assaulted the victim at the equestrian center. Facility staff should have known of the threat to clients posed by Vasquez "given his pedophilic and exploitative tendencies," the suit claims.
Records show Kane County prosecutors wrote to prison officials after Vasquez pleaded guilty, stating that he "befriended and groomed the victim and this began when she was 12 years old. He started sexually abusing her at age 14 years old -- repeated sexual abuse."
The two sides are due in court June 26.
People who suspect a child is being sexually or physically abused or neglected should call the Department of Children and Family Services hotline at (800) 25-ABUSE or (800) 252-2873.