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Reading man charged in rape of teen at hotel near Harrisburg; coach accused of coverup

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
69 News, follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 05:37:52 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 04 2013 01:05:20 PM CST

A reported rape inside a hotel room near Harrisburg has led to criminal charges being filed against two people from Berks County, including the alleged victim's high school athletic coach.

LOWER SWATARA TWP., Pa. -

Criminal charges have been filed against two people from Berks County in connection with a reported rape inside a hotel near Harrisburg.

Rafael Gomez-Echavarria raped the girl, now 16, inside a room at a hotel in Lower Swatara Twp., Dauphin Co., early on the morning of Aug. 4, police said.

What some find even more troubling is that Alicia Colon, fearing she may lose her coaching job at Kutztown Area High School, later tried to convince the girl to forget about the incident, saying, 'it will go away,' according to court documents.

It was supposed to be a weekend watching the Keystone State Games near Harrisburg, but it turned into every parent's nightmare.

"She was in town to watch her sister play in the Keystone Games, then she was given permission to stay overnight," said Det. Ryan Gartland, Lower Swatara Twp. Police Dept.

The victim's parents agreed to a "girl's night" with Colon and two others, but when Colon invited three men back to the room, the victim immediately felt uncomfortable, said police.

The girl reported she was asleep on the floor when one of the males, identified by police as 23-year-old Gomez-Echavarria of Reading, began kissing her neck, said police, stating that the girl told him approximately five times to stop before he complied with her demands.

The girl was awakened again approximately two hours later by Gomez-Echavarria touching her "private areas" and ultimately forcing her to have intercourse, according to court documents. The girl told police she didn't scream for fear Gomez-Echavarria would harm her.

When the alleged ordeal was over, Gomez-Echavarria told the girl it was "our little secret" and went to sleep.

"The victim had sent a text message right after it happened to the coach and in the morning, whenever the coach got the text message, she made an attempt to cover it up," said Gartland.

Police said text messages prove Colon, 25, of Exeter Township, told police she "immediately flipped out on the three males."

Colon, while initially telling the girl to forget about the rape, admitted in an interview with investigators last month that she should have called police right away but didn't because she was worried about her son and losing her coaching job.

The victim kept quiet until she told her mom in October, said police, who added they lost physical evidence because of the alleged coverup.   

"It is hard to believe. A coach is a trusted person in the community," said Tom Zawislak, who lives on the same street as Colon.

69 News attempted to get Colon's reaction to the allegations at her home, but her father told us the family had "no comment."

Colon has been charged with hindering apprehension, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors. She is expected to turn herself in this week, said police.

Gomez-Ecchavarria has been charged with multiple offenses, including rape, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor. He is already in the Berks County Jail for violating probation, said police.