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Prosser supervisor accused of sexually abusing 17-year-old employee

PROSSER, Wash. -- A supervisor at a Prosser produce company is accused of making multiple sexual advances toward a 17-year-old employee at their workplace.

Hugo Merino Sanchez, 48, is facing two counts of indecent liberties by forcible compulsion, a class A felony in the state of Washington. 

Sanchez has been a supervisor at Hartley Produce on East Reese Road for the past 19 years, according to court documents. 

The alleged victim had been working at the company packing onions with her grandmother since mid-September. She told authorities she asked Sanchez to move her to a different part of the warehouse because she'd received "numerous unwelcomed sexual comments" from her male coworkers, court documents say. 

She said Sanchez moved her to a different part of the warehouse, then became infatuated with her. She said he wouldn't let her out of his sight. 

Between Sept. 21 and Sept. 25, Sanchez allegedly made multiple sexual advances toward the girl at their workplace. Authorities said he kissed and licked her neck, grabbed her breasts and buttocks and offered to rent an apartment and give her money in exchange for sexual favors. 

Court documents say the girl eventually told her grandmother about the abuse, and they contacted the Benton County Sheriff's Office together. The girl said at first, she was reluctant to say anything because she wasn't sure if anyone would believe her. 

She cried while giving an emotional recorded statement. 

On Sept. 27, deputies arrested Sanchez at his Prosser home and brought him to the sheriff's office for an interview. He admitted to grabbing her breasts, slapping her buttocks, kissing her neck and touching her public region over her pants. 

He said he would have had sex with the girl if she let him, then admitted that he made a mistake and asked for forgiveness. 

RELATED: Married father raped Richland teen for years, invited friend to join, court docs say

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