Former Durham resident arrested in Nicaragua on child pornography, rape charges

Posted Nov. 23, 2011, at 5:04 a.m.
Ronald J. Leno
Ronald J. Leno

A former Durham resident whose history of rape and other crimes ruffled feathers in the community has been arrested in Nicaragua for child pornography and rape.

Ronald J. Leno is under investigation by police in the city of Granada for luring teenage girls into his home, where he allegedly took photographs and video of them naked or dressed in provocative lingerie and had sex with them, a Granada newspaper, La Verdad, reported Friday.

Leno was taken into custody Nov. 14 and was still in custody awaiting prosecution on Thursday, Grenada Police Commissioner Jose Domingo Gonzalez told La Verdad.

Police described two of Leno’s alleged victims, one a 14-year-old girl and the other 16. Leno initiated contact with the girls by pretending to hit them with a motor scooter, police said. He would then invite the girls to join him for meals at popular Granada restaurants and provide them and their families with money, food and drugs, Gonzalez said.

Leno told the alleged victims he would help them find jobs as models and took nude photographs and videos of the girls in his home under the guise of creating modeling portfolios before sexually assaulting them, La Verdad reported.

Leno posted the images on the Internet, La Verdad reported. A friend of one girl saw the photos and reported them to police, Gonzalez said.

Police there called Leno a “sexual predator.” Leno “took advantage of the emotional and economic vulnerability of the victims,” wrote another Granada news source, El Nuevo Diario.

Gonzalez said police were working to identify more victims, using “an enormous amount of photographs” to aid them, El Nuevo Diario reported.

A search of Leno’s home turned up cameras and video equipment, women’s clothing, makeup and pornographic videos, El Nuevo Diario reported.

Leno has lived in Granada since 2007, El Nuevo Diario said. He had lived in Durham in 2003 and 2004, and was sentenced to three years in prison for assaulting a Durham man in November 2004.

Leno was also convicted of three rapes in 1978 in Hawaii and Massachusetts. He was sentenced to probation in each of those cases, and it was not until he was convicted in 1981 of yet another rape, in Boston, that he was sent to prison. He spent most of the 1980s and 1990s in prison and at the Massachusetts Treatment Center at Bridgewater.

Despite a laundry list of convictions for rape and other offenses, Leno had lived in Durham for a year before police realized he was a sex offender.

They found out when a Brunswick woman filed a protection-from-harassment order against him in 2004.

Durham residents were up in arms when they realized the convicted rapist had managed to escape detection in their community. Within days of police announcing Leno’s presence and criminal record in June 2004, Leno beat a man with a steel club when the man warned Leno to stay away from his family, leading to the assault conviction.

To see more from the Sun Journal, visit sunjournal.com.

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