Border Patrol agent accused of sex acts with drugged girl to stand trial

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SAN DIEGO -- A Border Patrol agent accused of committing sex acts with an intoxicated 17-year-old girl after plying her with cocaine must stand trial on seven counts, including oral copulation of an intoxicated minor and using a minor in the production of child pornography, a judge ruled Thursday,

Daniel Alfredo Spear, 45, faces more than 16 years in state prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Marisa Di Tillio.

Spear -- who is out of custody on $275,000 bail -- will be back in court March 17 for arraignment.

According to testimony at Thursday's preliminary hearing, the alleged victim said she became close to the defendant and his family after having problems with her mother and a friend. The 17-year-old met the defendant through his daughter at school, the prosecutor said.

“During the course of that relationship he provided her with cocaine, and ultimately led to a couple of sex acts that occurred with the minor,” said DiTillio.

The girl testified that Spear would give her money without her asking for it and hinted that in return she was to talk to him and give him sexual favors. The alleged sex offenses took place between last July and October, the prosecutor said.

She said she would not have engaged in sex acts with the defendant if not for him giving her cocaine.

San Diego police Detective Brian Sanchez testified that Spear used a credit card to check into a room at the Dana Hotel in Mission Bay last Oct. 20.

“Was there also a credit card used to pay parking and a resort fee? Yes," said Sanchez.

The detective said he downloaded more than 10 photographs from the defendant's phone, showing the alleged victim in several sexually suggestive poses in lingerie.

In a series of controlled calls, Spear didn't deny that the sex acts happened in the hotel room, Di Tillio said.

The alleged victim ended up going to law enforcement and Spear was arrested New Year's Day near his home in Lemon Grove.

Defense attorney Kerry Armstrong said the alleged victim has problems with her memory and her credibility.

“My client and his wife are adamant that she’s the one who stole some jewelry, some iPhones, and some lingerie from the house. My client says he obviously doesn’t know for sure, but he thinks that’s the reason she’s making this up to try to get out of that,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong told reporters that his client is not a "predator.''

"He's so upset,'' Armstrong said outside court, noting that Spear's 18-year law enforcement career is in jeopardy. Spear is on administrative leave from the Border Patrol.

“I think they’re just waiting to see what happens with the criminal case. But even if he’s acquitted, I don’t see him getting his job back," Armstrong said.

After the two-hour preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge Joan Weber ruled that enough evidence was presented for Spear to stand trial.  Spear will be arraigned March 17.