Enrique Soto, one of the most powerful trainers in Latin America, is the subject of an investigative report by Alicia Ortega of Noticias Sin in the Dominican Republic in which three former players accuse Soto of sexually assaulting them.
One of the players, 22-year-old Yunior Pena Peguero, was interviewed for the report last month. According to Ortega's report, he was later stabbed to death on June 26 outside of a small shop in Bani before the story aired on July 4.
(Editor's Note: You can watch the report here in a series of four videos, which contain nearly 40 minutes of footage. Warning: The report features graphic material, including graphic descriptions of alleged sexual assaults, images of Peguero in a coffin and a re-enactment of the alleged assaults.)
Soto, who runs a program in Bani, was arrested in January when two unnamed brothers who had previously trained with him told Dominican authorities that Soto had sexually assaulted them when they were 16 and 17 over the course of six months in 2003. Soto, who has denied the allegations, was released from jail on bond in late June.
Ortega interviews Soto in her report, and he denies every allegation against him. Baseball America could not reach Soto directly, though he declined comment through an associate.
In an interview with Ortega, Peguero says that Soto sexually assaulted him when he was 15 and Soto was his trainer. Peguero said he then developed a drug addiction, attempted suicide and never signed with a major league team. (Peguero is pictured in the video in a Padres uniform, though according to the report he never signed with any major league organization.) Soto denied that allegation, saying that Peguero's drug addiction derailed his career.
Peguero also said in the report that he had received death threats about coming forward with his accusations. His father, Ramon Pena, is shown crying during an interview the day after his son's death, and says he had warned his son that going to the authorities would put his life in danger. Soto tells Ortega that he never threatened Peguero, saying that it was Peguero who offered through a third party to kill one of the two brothers who also made sexual assault accusations against Soto.
Those two brothers also spoke to Ortega. The younger brother's face and voice are distorted, while the older brother, now a 25-year-old living in Boston, is shown wearing sunglasses. Both brothers also described Soto sexually assaulting them on multiple occasions. The older brother said he also witnessed assaults on other players who have been afraid to come forward.
Soto denied every allegation in the story and tells Ortega that the father of one of his other players, Mariners shortstop Esteilon Peguero, is behind the allegations. Peguero originally signed with the Mariners in December for $2.9 million, then later had his bonus reduced to $1.1 million for undisclosed reasons. A source familiar with the contract told Baseball America that Peguero has yet to be paid his bonus. It is not clear whether Esteilon Peguero is related to Yunior Peguero. (Update, July 15: A source tells BA that the two are not related.)
Soto went on to say that Esteilon Peguero's father was the one who motivated the mother of the two brothers to pursue the case. Peguero's mother and father are separated, and Soto told Ortega that Peguero's father is trying to blackmail him because he is unable to gain access to his son's bonus. Ortega also reports that Soto plans to launch a counter-claim against the mother of the two brothers.
Soto has been one of the most prominent trainers in the Dominican Republic for the last two decades. He was the trainer for Miguel Tejada, Erick Aybar and Willy Aybar.
Soto also represented Colombian catcher Jorge Alfaro, who signed with the Rangers last year for $1.3 million. Jharmidy DeJesus, who signed with the Mariners for $1 million in 2007, was another of Soto's recent high-profile players. Soto also trained Dodgers third baseman Pedro Baez. Soto's son, George Soto, is a 21-year-old infielder on Seattle's Rookie-level Dominican Summer League team.
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