When a suspect in a high-profile criminal case turns out to belong to an ethnic minority group, it often opens their communities up to negative associations. The recent commentary from rightwing pundits and a few ugly confrontations and acts of violence against Muslims following the Boston bombings provide a recent reminder.

Cleveland's prosecutor Victor Perez moved to stomp those concerns out immediately.

Perez defended Puerto Ricans as he announced the charges Wednesday against Ariel Castro, who is accused of holding three women captive and sexually abusing them for roughly a decade.

In comments to the press, Victor Perez said:

As the chief prosecutor for the city of Cleveland, born and raised in Puerto Rico, I want everyone to know that the acts of the defendants in this criminal case are not a reflection of the rest of the Puerto Rican community, here or in Puerto Rico.

Castro was charged with kidnapping and raping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight on Wednesday. Castro had allegedly held the women captive in his home for years. Berry gave birth to a child six years ago while held at Castro’s home, according to news reports.

A part-time jazz musician and one-time school bus driver, Castro’s late ex-wife Grimilda Figueroa said that he had beaten her several times. According to the Daily Beast:

In her petition for an order of protection, ex-wife Grimilda Figueroa stated that Castro had “broken petitioner’s nose (twice), ribs, lacerations, knocked out tooth, blood clot on brain, (inoperable tumor), dislocated shoulder, (twice, once on each side) threatened to kill petitioner and daughters 3 to 4 times just this year.

Perez wasn’t the only one worried that the shocking crime might negatively impact American perceptions of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rican Police Chief Héctor Pesquera told WKAQ on Wednesday that he “would have personally removed” the island’s flag from the Castro’s front porch, where it was visible in pictures and news broadcast, alongside an American flag.

Arielle Rios, a Puerto Rican from Cleveland writing for ABC News, expressed a similar concern:

When the house where the girls were held captive was shown on the news, I could not help but notice the swaying Puerto Rican flag on the porch pillar. My father Manuel's initial reaction was that this would bring a lot of shame to the community. These horrific actions are in no way a reflection of all Puerto Rican men.

Quick Poll

Should Victor Perez Have Defended Puerto Ricans In His Comments To The Press?

VOTE

Loading Slideshow...
  • Benicio Del Toro

    Oscar-winning actor ("Traffic," "21 Grams")

  • Michelle Rodriguez

    Actress: "Avatar," "Girlfight"

  • Rosie Perez

    Actress: "It Could Happen To You," "Fearless"

  • Rita Moreno

    Oscar-winning actress ("West Side Story")

  • Melonie Diaz

    Actress: "Be Kind, Rewind"

  • Jennifer Lopez

    She does it all!

  • Chita Rivera

    Broadway legend.

  • Esai Morales

    Actor: "Gun Hill Road," "NYPD Blue"

  • Rachel Ticotin

    Actress: "Total Recall"

  • Susie Castillo

    TV host: "TRL," "School Pride"

  • Raquel Castro

    Reality Star: "The Voice," and actress ("Jersey Girl").

  • Kimberly Guilfoyle

    TV Host ("The Five")

  • Hector Elizondo

    Actor: "Pretty Woman," "Last Man Standing"

  • Denise Quinones

    Former Miss Universe.

  • Liz Torres

    Actress: "Gilmore Girls"

  • Alanna Ubach

    Actress: "Legally Blonde," "Bad Teacher"

  • Lisa Vidal

    Actress: "The Event"

  • Freddy Rodriguez

    Actor: "Six Feet Under," "Poseidon"

  • Ian Gomez

    Actor: "Cougar Town," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"

  • Eva LaRue

    Actress: "CSI: Miami"

  • Frankie Muniz

    Actor: "Malcolm in the Middle"

  • Reagan Gomez-Preston

    Actress: "The Parent 'Hood"

  • Rick Gonzalez

    Actor: "Old School"

  • Meagan Good

    Actress: "Deliver Us From Eva"

  • Shar Jackson

    Actress: "Moesha"

  • Lana Parrilla

    Actress: "Once Upon A Time"

  • Lauren Velez

    Actress: "Dexter," "New York Undercover," "Oz," Ugly Betty"

  • Ramon Rodriguez

    Actor: "Charlie's Angels"

  • Jimmy Smits

    Actor: "Dexter," "The West Wing"

  • Kirk Acevedo

    Actor: "Oz," "Fringe," "Band Of Brothers"

  • Ricky Martin

    Music superstar and Broadway star ("Evita").

  • Shalim Ortiz

    Actor: "Heroes"

  • Amaury Nolasco

    Actor: "Prison Break"

  • Luis Guzman

    Actor: "How To Make It In America"

  • Freddie Prinze Jr.

    Actor: "She's All That," "Friends," "Scooby Doo"

  • Erik Estrada

    Actor: "CHIPs"

  • Roselyn Sanchez

    Actress: "Without A Trace," "Rush Hour 2"

  • David Zayas

    Actor: "Dexter"

  • Marc Indelicato

    Actor: "Ugly Betty"

  • April Lee Hernandez

    Actress: "Freedom Writers"

  • Ana Ortiz

    Actress: 'Ugly Betty," "Devious Maids"

  • Victoria Justice

    Actress: "Victorious"

  • Naya Rivera

    Actress: "Glee"

  • Scotty McCreery

    "American Idol" winner.

  • Lynda Lopez

    TV host.

  • Howie Dorough

    Singer, songwriter and member of the "Backstreet Boys"

  • Giselle Blondet

    TV host: "Nuestra Belleza Latina"

  • Chayanne

    Singer.

  • La La Anthony

    Former MTV VJ and reality star ("La La's Full Court Life")

  • John Ortiz

    Actor: 'Luck"

  • Wilson Cruz

    Actor: "My So-Called Life"