VISTA — A Vista man pleaded not guilty to a single count of unlawful sexual intercourse at his arraignment Sept. 30, where he was charged for having sex with an 15-year-old high school student from Encinitas who he allegedly enticed through an Internet site.
Twenty-year-old Jose Adrian Cano was arrested on Sept. 28 in connection with the false abduction and sexual assault claims that were generated by the female victim after the two met up and had sex during school hours on Sept. 24.
Cano was ordered by Judge Joan Weber to be held without bail while authorities determine his immigration status.
He was assigned a public defender at the arraignment, and the case is set for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 13.
A release sent by authorities said that detectives and investigators searched Cano’s home and seized a computer, and were led to believe there are additional underage victims.
Outside the Vista courtroom, Katherine Flaherty, deputy district attorney, said that in a case like this where there is a meeting between people online there is always a concern with law enforcement that there may be other victims.
“We are trying to see if there are any other individuals who had contact with the defendant,” she said.
Authorities said Cano met the victim through mocospace.com, a social networking website that claims to be the “world’s largest mobile social network.”
After a four-day police hunt beginning Sept. 24, thousands spent on investigations and sketches provided of three alleged rapists, the teenage girl confessed to making up the story and said that she had actually met a man online and had consensual sex but was too embarrassed to admit it to her family, according to police.
That’s when authorities turned their focus to a single suspect, and Cano was booked on suspicion of unlawful intercourse with a minor, contacting a minor online with the intent to commit a sex crime and lewd acts with a 15-year-old.
Flaherty said the girl is “doing as well as can be expected.”
The girl will be a necessary witness in the case, she said.
When asked what the victim may face for lying to police, Flaherty said that is yet to be determined.
She also said that children have been known to fabricate stories if they are afraid they are going to get into trouble.
“It’s a disappointment but unfortunately it appears to be the case,” she said.
Cano’s charge of unlawful sexual intercourse was formerly known as statutory rape, Flaherty said.
It is now unlawful sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor with an age difference of at least three years, she said.
It is also a wobbler law.
That means Cano has the possibility of being charged with either a misdemeanor, which holds a one-year county jail sentence, or a felony, which has the potential of a three-year prison sentence.
If Cano’s immigration hold is released, his bail will be reduced to the standard for the charge, which is $20,000.