LAKELAND, Fla. – A 28-year-old Lakeland man was arrested for sexual battery of a minor which took place at a youth church retreat in Gainesville.
According to investigators, on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, the Gainesville Police Department’s Special Victims Unit (SVU) began investigating a sexual abuse report that occurred at Ignite Life Center, located at 404 NW 14th Ave Gainesville, Florida.
A victim reported that while attending the Ignite Youth Internship in July of 2021, Gabriel Hemenez, 28, sexually abused him.
Hemenez was a volunteer/church member of Ignite Life Center who interacted with minors regularly from 2018 to 2023.
According to police, the investigation revealed that Hemenez sexually abused several minors while they attended the Ignite Life Center’s Youth Internship in July of 2021, which is a month-long overnight camp.
On Thursday, July 6, 2023, detectives with the Gainesville Police Department traveled to Lakeland, Florida, and interviewed Hemenez.
During the interview, Hemenez confessed to inappropriately touching three minors and one adult while attending and volunteering at the Ignite Life Center.
An arrest warrant was obtained, and Hemenez was arrested in Lakeland.
Hemenez has been charged with two counts of Lewd or Lascivious Molestation and one count of attempted sexual battery of a minor. This is an ongoing investigation with additional charges pending.
Det. Johnson is requesting any member of the community with additional information or who may be a victim, to please get in touch with her at 352-393-7656 or Johnsonrl@cityofgainesville.org.
The Ignite Life Center was made aware of this investigation and the arrest of Hemenez.
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