HESPERIA — A 21-year-old Hesperia man accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old Apple Valley girl he met on Facebook earlier this month has had two additional sex charges filed against him in a 2013 case involving a 14-year-old girl.
Pedro Cruz was arrested on Oct. 20 following a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department investigation of reports that Cruz “forced himself” on a 16-year-old girl. He pleaded not guilty last week to four felony charges, including two counts of oral copulation with a minor and two counts of unlawful sex with a minor.
Deputy District Attorney David Foy said two of the four charges stem from the October case involving the 16-year-old girl. The other two charges are from a June 2013 police report accusing Cruz of committing a sex crime against a 14-year-old Hesperia girl.
Foy said both cases involve Facebook contact between Cruz and the victims.
The father of the 14-year-old victim spoke to the Daily Press and requested that his name be withheld because he fears for his safety.
“He uses Facebook to meet all the girls,” the father told the Daily Press. “He preys upon these young girls and carries a gun on him and has a car and … the young girls are so impressed by a car, drugs, all of that. He knows how to work that.”
On Cruz’s Facebook page, 135 of his 198 friends are females.
“Men who use Facebook and other social media to prey on underage girls has been a threat since social media was developed,” Foy said. “I can’t say there’s more of it than five years ago, but it’s certainly a problem.”
Foy said sheriff’s officials received a report of a sex crime involving Cruz in June 2013. Foy said the report was not immediately submitted to the District Attorney’s Office, but was filed weeks later in connection to an alleged assault case involving Cruz’s father.
Pedro Villalobos, Cruz’s father, allegedly attacked the father of the 14-year-old victim in late June 2013. The victim’s father told the Daily Press the attack came just weeks after he had filed the police report regarding Cruz’s alleged actions with his daughter.
“My mom saw the Facebook messages (Cruz) was sending to my daughter, planning to pick her up,” the victim’s father said. “That’s where I confronted my daughter and it all came out. She’d get high and have sex with him. She was basically brainwashed.”
Court records show Villalobos was arrested on suspicion of assault and a felony criminal threat on July 2, 2013. He entered into a plea bargain, and the assault charge was dismissed. He was convicted of making a criminal threat and is serving time in jail.
It was during this case that the District Attorney’s Office was presented with the June 2013 reports accusing Cruz of sex crimes with the 14-year-old girl, Foy said, but no charges were filed against Cruz at that time.
Meanwhile, Cruz was arrested on suspicion of transporting methamphetamine in August 2013. The case is still open, and Cruz was out on bail when he was arrested for his latest alleged sex crime.
Cruz is scheduled to appear for his pre-preliminary conference on Thursday morning. His preliminary hearing has been tentatively scheduled for Nov. 4. He is being held at the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto in lieu of $250,000 bail.
“(On Wednesday) we are filing an amended court complaint alleging Cruz had a prior strike,” Foy said.
Court records show Cruz was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in May 2011.