Salinas man pleads guilty to sexually assaulting two 11-year-old girls

SALINAS (BCN) — A man pleaded guilty Wednesday in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas to molesting two 11-year-old girls in their homes while their parents were away, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.

Jose Perez Fuentes, 46, of Soledad, will receive 15 years in prison and have to register as a sex offender for life when he is sentenced on May 29, Deputy District Attorney Sulaiman Tokhi said.

The case was a common one involving youthful victims of sexual assault who are reluctant to report what happened because they believed they were to blame and that “the adult is always right,” Tokhi said.

Both juvenile victims told investigators that Fuentes had entered the bedrooms of their Soledad homes at night and sexually assaulted them, prosecutors said.

One of the girls said that in 2013, when Fuentes was a tenant in her mother’s home, he went into the girl’s room repeatedly at night without her mother’s knowledge and molested her, according to the district attorney’s office.

The girl, who waited more than a year to report it, explained that she did not tell her parents at the time because she thought she would get
into trouble, Tokhi said.

The mother later that year evicted Fuentes after she discovered him going into her bedroom where several girls, including her daughter, were watching a movie during a sleepover, he said.

The second girl came forward to tell police that Fuentes, who was a member of her family, had sexually molested her in 2014 while her parents
were not at home.

She recalled that in August of that year, he went into her room and tried to sleep beside her and on Sept. 6 he returned to her bedroom, touched her leg and then left when she told him to do so, Tokhi said.

The girl also said that she did not immediately tell her parents about the sexual assaults out of fear that she might be punished, he said.

While the case was being investigated, a 26-year-old woman and family member of Fuentes who had heard about the two girls contacted police and reported that he had also sexually assaulted her in Soledad when she was 16 years old, according to Tokhi.

The woman said that after she informed her parents, they did not believe her and her mother told her she would have her deported if she called police, he said.

The victim expressed regret for not coming forward earlier since two other girls were subsequently molested, he said.

Fuentes pleaded guilty to felony charges of assault with the intent to commit sex crimes and lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 in the 2014 case and lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 in the one from 2013, according to Tokhi.

Prosecutors had filed similar charges based on the third victim’s report but decided to allow Fuentes to plea to the charges in the more recent
cases involving the 11-year-old girls, he said.

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