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Jailed child sex-crime suspect under compassionate release dies at hospital

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Posted at 5:32 PM, Feb 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-12 20:32:02-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 73-year-old man who had been under a court-ordered compassionate release from the San Diego Central Jail died at a hospital after being taken off life support by doctors who were treating him for pneumonia associated with COVID-19, sheriff's officials said Saturday.

On Sept. 17, 2020, Rafael Ruiz was arrested by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and booked into the Vista Detention Facility. He was charged with several counts of suspicion of committing a lewd act with a child under 14 years old, lewd act with a child under 14 using force, aggravated sexual assault of a child, and sexual penetration of a child under 10 years old.

Ruiz was transferred to the San Diego Central Jail to receive specialized support for a long-term medical condition, according to Lt. Thomas Seiver. On Jan. 31, he was admitted to a hospital for respiratory complications associated with pneumonia from COVID-19. Ruiz's health declined, the lieutenant said.

On Friday, the sheriff's department, with the concurrence of the San Diego Superior Court, compassionately released Ruiz from custody.

"This gives the family an opportunity to say goodbye to their loved one and be able to make medical decisions," Seiver said. "After the court approved the compassionate release, but prior to deputies leaving the hospital, Ruiz was removed from life support at the direction of doctors at the hospital and was pronounced deceased at the hospital shortly thereafter," Seiver said.

Ruiz was a resident of Vista. His family was notified of his death.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office will determine Ruiz's cause and manner of death.