Los Angeles/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 25, 2024
Ventura Man Charged With Human Trafficking, Rape of Minor, Pleads Not Guilty in CourtSource: Unsplash/Tingey Injury Law Firm

In a grim revelation from Ventura County, a local man has been hauled into court facing serious charges including human trafficking and sex crimes against a minor. The Ventura County District Attorney's Office confirmed that Gerardo Hernandez Cruz, 31, is on the hook for three felony counts: human trafficking of a minor, forcible rape, and forcible sexual penetration with a minor over 14, as reported on May 24th by the Ventura County District Attorney's Office.

Deputies first caught wind of the case on May 9 when they responded to an emergency text from a youth in Casitas Springs who, after being interviewed, claimed she had been brought over from Mexico and forced into sexual acts by Cruz upon arrival, the deputies said they found a case of clear exploitation, especially striking given the victim's young age and vulnerability. Cruz didn’t waste time in pleading not guilty at his arraignment on May 13 in the Ventura County Superior Court.

During a recent procedural gathering, Ventura County Deputy District Attorney Rikole Kelly, a prosecutor with the Sexual Assault Unit laid out the charges against Cruz, who is facing stiff allegations, including that the victim was particularly vulnerable due to her age and circumstances. The charges against Cruz are severe and come with a hefty bail of $500,000.

The case, marking yet another distressing instance of crimes against minors, has been scheduled to continue on July 10 as all parties prepare for more legal wrangling in courtroom 11, Cruz remains behind bars, his fate hanging in the balance with the potential for serious jail time if convicted. The case is being watched closely by advocates for victims of human trafficking and by a public that's increasingly concerned with the safety of vulnerable populations in its midst.