‘I Needed to Tell Someone’

East Hampton Police arrested Kenneth L. Rodriguez on charges of sexual abuse involving a 12-year-old girl in 2013. T.E. McMorrow

Following an eight-month investigation that involved multiple agencies, East Hampton Town police arrested a Center Moriches man last Thursday evening on a charge of felony sexual abuse. The man, Kenneth L. Rodriguez, 43, is accused of repeatedly assaulting a girl over an almost two-year period, starting when she was 12.

According to police, the first incident occurred while the girl’s family, who were friendly with and trusted Mr. Rodriguez, were camping in Montauk County Park during the summer of 2013. Mr. Rodriguez was camping there as well. One night, while she was trying to sleep, Mr. Rodriguez began sexually assaulting her, she told police. Frightened, the girl said she pretended to be asleep.

“The next day we acted like normal, like nothing had happened,” she told an East Hampton Town detective last August.

The next incident occurred that fall. She told detectives the man walked into her room one night while she was lying in bed and began rubbing her back. “Again, I just pretended like I was asleep,” she said. Mr. Rodriguez’s hands worked his way down her body, she told the detective.

Incidents like this continued, the girl said. Mr. Rodriguez, who was living at the time in Rocky Point, eventually moved to Center Moriches, and the contact between the two ended.

“I’ve been holding this inside of me for a while, and I felt like I needed to tell someone,” she told the detectives. During a Snapchat conversation with a friend, “I told her I needed to tell her something important.” After she revealed her secret, the friend told her to tell her mother. “I told my mother to come into my room.”

Her mother contacted police. The girl was interviewed at the Suffolk County Seventh Precinct headquarters in Shirley. After the interview, police began a formal investigation, culminating in the arrest.

Mr. Rodriguez, who is additionally charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, a misdemeanor, is currently being held in the county jail in Riverside, in lieu of the $20,000 bail set by East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky on Monday. More charges could be brought, according to Det. Sgt. Greg Schaefer of the town police.

The district attorney’s office has until Friday to obtain an indictment from a grand jury, or Mr. Rodriguez will be released from custody, as required by law.