Sarasota restaurant owner accused of sexual battery against employee, 16

Fernando Palomino, jail booking photo
Fernando Palomino, jail booking photo

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Sarasota restaurant owner is accused of sexual battery against a teenager who started working at the restaurant the day before the alleged attack. Police think there could be more victims.

Sarasota Police Department officers arrested Fernando Palomino, 45, on Oct. 16. He is the owner of  the Inkantu Peru restaurant located at 41 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota.

“It was her second day of work. She’s a young girl, just trying to find a first job and this situation took place,” said  Sarasota Police Department Detective Dustin Luciano.

The 16-year-old victim told police that she started working at the restaurant on Oct. 14. She said that Palomino became flirtatious with her and told her he was a massage therapist. She said that he tried to massage her back numerous times and she refused. The victim told police she thought this behavior was strange because his wife worked at the restaurant as well.

The victim told police that she started work on Oct. 15 at 12: 20 p.m. and Palomino’s wife left the restaurant at 1 p.m. Palomino then locked the front door of the restaurant and began massaging the victim’s shoulders. He told her to go to a back room with him.

The girl told detectives that she went to the back room with him and he continued to massage her. She told him numerous times that she did not want to receive a massage, but he continued. He then began to sexually batter the teen.

She began to cry and he told her to sit down and talk about the incident. She told detectives she pulled up her pants and ran out of the restaurant and called a friend to come pick her up.

The girl told detectives that all of her conversations with him were in Spanish. She said she was in shock during the incident and felt like she couldn’t get away.

Palomino was arrested and charged with three counts of sexual battery against a child 12 years of age or older, but less than 18.

Since the owner assaulted her after she had only been there for a couple of days, police are concerned there could be more victims

“That’s part of our concern. It was a very brief time that she actually worked there. It was almost the start of her second shift. If there are other victims out there, we want to make sure that they know they can step forward,” said Detective Luciano.

Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to call Sarasota Police Department Detective Dustin Luciano at (941) 363-5827.

We’ll have the latest on the investigation tonight at 5:30.

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