Charlotte PlaySpanish Co-Founder Arrested for Sexual Assault of a Minor, ICE Involved

The co-founder of the “PlaySpanish” Program in Charlotte has been arrested for the sexual assault of a child.  ICE is involved and has detained the man.

Ricardo Mata - Charlotte PlaySpanish

Ricardo Mata – mugshot via MCSO

Ricardo Mata, age 52, was arrested and charged with Indecent Liberties with a Minor-Lewd and Lascivious.

The victim was just 7 years old at the time of the alleged incident, which occurred last July at a camp run by Mata.

The police report states that the alleged assault occurred at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Arrest records show that there was a $50,000 secured bond in place and that ICE has detained Mata. He remains remanded to the Mecklenburg County Jail.

In 2017, Mata had complained about ‘increased harassment’ of immigrants under President Trump and implied his program might have to shut down.

Mata also claimed the Charlotte Police were working with ICE to detain and harass immigrants – a claim the Charlotte Police strongly refuted.

The city of Charlotte newsroom had more details.

On February 12, 2018, at 11:58 a.m., the parents of a female victim notified South Division Patrol Officers about an incident that occurred between their daughter and Ricardo Mata, who was the owner of a summer camp called “Play Spanish”, which was located at 1000 E. Morehead Street. The parents stated that Mata had sexually assaulted their daughter, who was 7-years-old at the time of the assault, while she attended the camp during the summer of 2017. Detectives with the Crimes Against Children Unit were notified and launched an investigation.

Detectives are asking anyone with additional information concerning this case or the suspect to call Detective Lingle at 704-336-4076 or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or visit the website at For additional information about this case please refer to CMPD report number 20180212-1158-00.

PlaySpanish operates in 5 locations in the Charlotte area:

  • First United Methodist Church Child Development Center
  • Myers Park Baptist Church Through-The-Week-School
  • Providence Baptist Church Weekday Education Ministry
  • Steele Creek Presbyterian Church Child Development Center
  • Kids ‘R’ Kids -The Academy at Blakeney

According to the PlaySpanish website, “Ricardo holds degrees in Business Administration and Hotels Management. After several years in the corporate world, he went back to his true passion: Working with children.”

The website goes on to say that while his co-founding partner is away “Ricardo is teaching most classes and taking care of the business side of the program.”

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools released the following statement, indicating that Mata had been a cleared volunteer in the district but was now banned from all campuses:

CMS is committed to a safe environment for all students and staff, at all times. A case was brought to the attention of CMS leadership over the weekend regarding the arrest of an individual who last served as a volunteer with CMS in early December 2017. His volunteer status has been revoked and he is not allowed on any CMS campus in any capacity. The individual offered a Spanish language program. The case in which he has been arrested, did not occur on a CMS campus or involve his work with CMS.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
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