A Van Nuys man was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison after pleading no contest in the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl who got lost at a Panorama City mall in 2016, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Jorge Enrique Lopez-Maza, 27, entered the plea to a count of lewd act upon a child during a court appearance Tuesday, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
He also admitted to the allegation that he kidnapped the little girl.
The victim was with her grandmother at the Panorama Mall on April 21, 2016, when the two became separated, according to witness testimony. She was approached by the defendant, who convinced the child to go with him to look for her grandmother.
Instead, Lopez-Maza gained the victim’s trust and”lured” her to an isolated area of the parking lot, where he sexually assaulted the young girl behind some metal recycling bins, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, which investigated the case.
The victim managed to get away and ran from him screaming. A good Samaritan heard the child yelling and chased the suspect several blocks to a market where police apprehended him, authorities said.
In addition to being immediately sentenced to prison, Lopez-Maza has been ordered to register as a sex offender for life.