Man accused of molesting young relative to stand trial

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VISTA, Calif. — A Mexican national accused of molesting a young relative when she was between 6 and 8 years old must stand trial on 10 felony counts, including committing sex acts with a child, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Antonio Cervantes Sarmiento faces up to 90 years to life in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Natalie Villaflor. The defendant is also charged with committing lewd acts on a child.

scaleSarmiento, 35, was arrested in Escondido on April 11, 2012, during a traffic stop in the 1600 block of North Broadway, according to Escondido police Lt. Mike Loarie, who said Sarmiento drew attention to himself by making an unsafe lane change.

When he was unable to provide a driver’s license or other identification to the officer who stopped him, Sarmiento allegedly offered up a false name and incorrect date of birth. Loarie said the officer then called in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field agent, after which Sarmiento said he was a Mexican national in the United States illegally.

While being processed at Escondido police headquarters, Sarmiento’s true identity was confirmed and officers learned that he was named in an outstanding child-molestation arrest warrant issued by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department a month earlier, Loarie said.

Judge Sim von Kalinowski ruled that enough evidence was presented at the defendant’s preliminary hearing to proceed to trial. The judge set a Jan. 23 trial date and scheduled a readiness conference for Sept. 25.