Scales of justice
Courtesy photo

A 43-year-old man beat, strangled, raped, and held a 14-year-old against her will at his Billings home for weeks, according to charges filed Tuesday.

Francisco Morales Jr., 43, appeared in Yellowstone County Justice Court on one felony count of sexual intercourse without consent.

Morales initially let the child stay with him at his Broadwater Avenue home when she ran away from her home in late June, she told investigators. She met Morales through a friend.

The child told investigators that initially Morales treated her well and bought her gifts, but soon began isolating her from her friends, family and boyfriend. Morales gave her meth and would not let her leave, she said, becoming physically, sexually and emotionally abusive.

The child, who was eventually able to run from the home only recently, told investigators she originally told Morales she was 17 years old. They began having sex almost daily, and when Morales learned her true age, he continued having sex with her, she said. The child was 13 when she began staying with Morales and turned 14 in July.

The child told investigators she was scared of Morales because he beat and threatened her and had said he was a gang member. Morales was charged in Flagstaff, Arizona, on gang-related activities, but no disposition had been reached in the case, according to charging documents.

The abuse escalated over the weeks, the child said. One day the two began arguing and Morales choked her, she said. He pushed her against a wall and applied pressure, causing her to feel dizzy and think she would die, she said. Morales called her a slut and only let her go when her eyes began bulging, records allege.

When the child began collecting her things, Morales hit her in the ribs and knocked her belongings from her hands, she said. When she tried to leave, he grabbed her by the hair and pulled. The child was eventually broke free and ran to a nearby gas station to call for help.

Morales later told investigators he did not force the child to have sex or use drugs but that she did so voluntarily. He also said he believed the age of consent was 17 and that the child was 16.

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Public safety reporter for the Billings Gazette.