Leonard C Boyle, Acting U.S. Attorney of the District of Connecticut, today announced that CHRISTOPHER JESUS CONSTANZO, 19, of Torrington, has been charged by a federal criminal complaint issued in the District of Connecticut with kidnapping a minor.
Constanzo was originally charged with this offense in the District of Vermont. He appeared today via videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle in Vermont and agreed to remain in custody pending his transfer to the District of Connecticut for further prosecution.
As alleged in court documents, on December 2, 2021, at approximately 7:27 a.m., Constanzo and a minor female (“minor victim”) arrived by car at the U.S. Port of Entry at Highgate Springs, Vermont. Just prior to their arrival, officials at the St-Armand/Philipsburg Border Crossing in Canada had refused Constanzo and the minor victim entry into Canada. After U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers separated Constanzo from the minor victim, the victim reported that she met Constanzo the night before at Stillwater Pond State Park in Torrington. Constanzo then sexually assaulted the minor victim, forced her into the trunk of the minor victim’s car, restrained her with a shoelace, and then began driving. At some point during the night, Constanzo removed the minor victim from the trunk and sexually assaulted her again. As they neared the Canadian border, Constanzo has the minor victim sit in the front passenger seat of the car. Constanzo instructed her to “act normal” and “go along with the story.” Constanzo then told Canadian Border Services Agency officials that the minor victim was his sister and they intended to go into Canada for four days to visit friends. However, due to their lack of COVID tests, Constanzo and the minor victim were denied entry into Canada.
The complaint alleges that Constanzo is the subject of a pending sexual assault investigation in Connecticut for another incident that occurred earlier this year.
The complaint charges Constanzo with kidnapping, which carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 25 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life. The penalties this matter are enhanced because the victim is a minor.
Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Vermont State Police and the Torrington Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Neeraj N. Patel and Nancy V. Gifford in the District of Connecticut, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Lasher in the District of Vermont.
This prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
To report cases of child exploitation, please visit www.cybertipline.com.