Man accused of sexual battery faces judge

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Police have arrested a man accused of taking advantage of unconscious women.

Bernardo Olarte, 39, was arrested for sexual battery on Wednesday before appearing in a Broward County courtroom, Thursday.

Police said this is not the first time the suspect was accused of these crimes, and detectives fear there could be other victims.

Investigators believe Olarte’s crimes began in June in Fort Lauderdale’s entertainment district, and it was the beginning of a very disturbing trail of evidence.

“It could happen to anybody, honestly,” said one woman.

Olarte was arrested and accused of similar crimes in 2017, but those charges were dropped.

A woman told police she was sexually assaulted at a Budget Inn in Fort Lauderdale nearly three years ago.

The accuser told investigators she met Olarte at a bar on Southwest Second Street. She admitted to drinking and said she blacked out, which she said she had never done before.

“Based on the information that we’ve collected throughout this investigation, we believe that there may be additional victims,” said Fort Lauderdale Police spokesperson Casey Liening. “The point of our story today is to really get his face out there, so that if someone feels they’ve become a victim of Bernardo Olarte, they can call our detectives.”

The charges were dropped although detectives found images of other unconscious women in Olarte’s phone.

One detective wrote in part, “I found various different pictures of different females who appeared to be unconscious inside a vehicle. There are various pictures of the suspect touching and exposing the unconscious females. The unconscious females in the vehicle have not yet been identified.”

Investigators also found a video of the alleged victim engaging in a sex act with Olarte.

Prosecutor Stacey Honowitz noted in a memo, “The victim appears to be ‘out of it.’ This seems to be his MO. He waits for women who walk out of the bars intoxicated. He then asks if they want a ride, gets them in his car, films them, takes them to a hotel and gets away with it because they don’t remember. The problem in this case is the video … Her actions on the tape depict what appears to be consensual acts.”

Honowitz noted that detectives could not find any of the other women pictured in his phone.

Prosecutors said Olarte’s latest arrest is very similar to the previous allegations.

“What I do know of particular concern is that it’s essentially the same exact allegations being made in this arrest warrant affidavit,” said a prosecutor.

Olarte is being held in the Broward County Jail on $200,000 bond.

Detectives are asking the public to reach out if they have had any interactions with Olarte.

If you have any information on this alleged sexual battery, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.

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