A 26-year-old man is scheduled to be arraigned Friday after being ordered to stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a 5-year-old girl in the parking lot of a Panorama City shopping center last year, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Jorge Enrique Lopez-Maza, of Van Nuys, has been charged with one count each of kidnapping to commit a lewd act on a child and lewd act upon a child, prosecutors said.
“The felony information … includes allegations that the victim was under the age of 14 and the defendant kidnapped the victim and the movement of the victim substantially increased the risk of harm to the victim,” a DA’s news release stated.
Witness testimony at a preliminary hearing indicated that on April 21, 2016, the child was at the Panorama Mall with her grandmother when the pair became separated. The lost little girl was then approached by Lopez-Maza, who allegedly convinced her to go with him and look for the child’s grandmother.
After gaining her trust, the defendant allegedly “lured” the girl to an isolated part of the parking lot and sexually assaulted her behind some recycling bins, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The child was able to get away. Her screams were heard by a good Samaritan, who chased Lopez-Mara several blocks to a market where he was later taken into custody by police, prosecutors said.
The suspect remains in custody, and is being held on $1 million bail. If convicted on all charges, he faces a possible sentence of 25 years to life in state prison.
Late last month, LAPD Mission Division detectives said they believed Lopez-Maza — also known as Julio Ramirez-Sarmiento — may have had other victims, and were hoping to speak with them.
Anyone with information has been asked to call Detective Madero at 213-996-1375. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call 800-222-8477.