NY Aerial Acrobatics Coach Accused of Abusing Student, 17

A New York man who coached aerial acrobatics students this summer in Portland has been arrested on an indictment accusing him of sexually abusing a 17-year-old student during his time in Oregon, police say.

Benjamin C. Mendoza, 34, was arrested Tuesday in New York and booked into a jail in Brooklyn on the Multnomah County, Oregon, charges, The Oregonian reported.

Portland detectives along with New York City police were involved in the arrest. It was not known late Wednesday whether Mendoza had a lawyer.

Mendoza was hired as a visiting coach at a "specialized Portland-based aerial arts school" in July, police said. Police did not identify the school.

An indictment returned Aug. 20 charges Mendoza with luring a minor, second-degree sex abuse, second-degree possession of materials depicting sexually explicit conduct of a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Lawyer Randall Vogt represents the 17-year-old. He told the newspaper that Mendoza teaches "big drops" — in which a performer executes a dramatic aerial unraveling on fabric from a ceiling. The move is often seen in circuses or stage performances.

In a statement, Portland police said Mendoza "had access to a number of students who were minors."

Detectives are trying to determine if there may be additional victims elsewhere, police said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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