Man accused of trying to kidnap girl faces judge

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VISTA, Calif. -- A man accused of trying to kidnap a 15-year-old girl as she walked to Orange Glen High School in Escondido pleaded not guilty Wednesday to four felony charges, including assault with intent to commit a lewd act on a minor and false imprisonment by violence.

Edgar Gutierrez of Escondido was ordered held on $1 million bail. The defendant is also facing an immigration hold, said Deputy District Attorney Claudia Plascencia.

Authorities said the girl reported that she was able to escape the clutches of a bearded, bushy-haired man who grabbed her in the 600 block of Linwood Street as she walked to school about 7:30 a.m. last Thursday.

After breaking free from her assailant, the girl sought help from people who happened to be nearby, and they followed the man and took a photo of him, officials said.

Police identified Gutierrez, 28, as the alleged assailant and arrested him that evening.

Gutierrez, who is also charged with attempted kidnapping and lewd act on a 15-year-old, appeared to be clean-shaven in a booking photo.

He faces up to nine years in prison if convicted.

A readiness conference was set for Oct. 11 and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Nov. 8.