Former Corona church volunteer arrested on suspicion of molesting girls from Santa Ana, Placentia and Riverside

by in News

A former Corona church volunteer suspected of molesting five girls from Santa Ana, Placentia and Riverside, remained behind bars in California Thursday, March 7.

He was arrested in February by U.S. Marshals in Nevada.

In December, officers looked into reports claiming that three sisters had been sexually assaulted in Santa Ana when they were between seven and eleven years old by Jesus Heras Garcia, 55, of Las Vegas, according to a news release from the Santa Ana Police Department.

It said the former Riverside resident had been a volunteer at Casa de Vida church in Corona, which is how he met his victims.

An investigation led detectives to two additional women who may have been abused by the suspect. In a case reported to the Placentia Police Department in 2010, a woman who was 16 years old at the time said she had been molested by Garcia. Then, in 2018, a 21-year-old told police she had been sexually assaulted multiple times at his home in Riverside when she was seven years old.

Detectives gathered evidence and obtained a warrant to arrest Garcia, who had moved to Las Vegas in 2012, said the release. A team of U.S. Marshals took him into custody in Nevada on Feb. 22 and later extradited him to California.

As of Thursday, he was being held at the Orange County Jail in lieu of $2 million bail on suspicion of offenses including lewd acts with a minor and aggravated sexual assault, according to court records. He is scheduled to appear for a bail hearing Friday, March 22.

Garcia will be represented by Orange County public defenders, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

None of the incidents occurred near the church, according to Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. He said the suspect was a close family friend to at least four of his five known victims.

Authorities believe there may be others who have yet come forward. Police have asked anyone with information relevant to the investigation to contact Detective Nick Vega at 714-245-8368.