Superintendent at building in Flatiron indicted for raping undocumented worker

The New York State Supreme Court Building in Manhattan, where Jose Espinoza was indicted on Tuesday.
The New York State Supreme Court Building in Manhattan, where Jose Espinoza was indicted on Tuesday.
Photo via Getty Images

A Manhattan building superintendent has been indicted on charges of raping an undocumented immigrant that worked as a cleaner in the Flatiron apartment complex he managed, according to the Manhattan District Attorney. 

“These alleged acts are absolutely horrendous, and I cannot imagine the physical, emotional and mental trauma this survivor continues to experience,” said DA Alvin Bragg

Prosecutors allege that Jose Espinoza, 54, reportedly used threats and violence over a six-year span to control the victim, who had a special needs child that prevented her from leaving.

Espinoza pleaded not guilty to the horrific crimes in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, and was released on a $200,000 cash bond, over the objections of Bragg’s office. 

Throughout his allegedly abusive relationship with the victim, Espinoza offered her money in exchange for sex, and used his status as her boss to compel her to agree, prosecutors said. 

The violation began in 2017, and by 2018 the defendant began assaulting and beating the woman, while emotionally abusing her by demanding photographs to determine her whereabouts, authorities say. 

He continued his effort to control the victim for years after, including confiscating her passports, and demanding naked photos of her daughter to use as blackmail if she ever defied him, according to court documents. 

His abuse became even more severe, Bragg said — including when he forced the survivor to have sex with him in front of her daughter. 

The victim, after suffering in silence for six years, eventually confided to a social worker about the abuse in 2022 — soon after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

When the worker informed the NYPD, they arrested the suspect in December of 2023, and found a camera focused on a piggy bank where he allegedly put the survivor’s earnings as a constant reminder to her of the control he wielded over her. 

The indictment charges Espinoza with rape, labor trafficking, aggravated sexual abuse, criminal sex act, and assault.

A lawyer representing the defendant, however, claimed the allegations are false, and claimed the victim was using the situation “in hopes of improving her immigration status.”

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” said Joseph Caldarera. “She is mad that my client would not leave his wife for her, so making a criminal complaint against my client will kill two birds with one stone — change of immigration status and revenge.” 

Meanwhile, Bragg praised the victim for her courage in speaking out, and promised to aid her as she continues to recover from the abuse.

“It took extraordinary strength and courage for her to come forward and our team of specially trained prosecutors, investigators and social workers will support her with every resource we have available,” said Bragg. 

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