Camarillo living facility caretaker accused of sexually assaulting 2 female residents, strangling 6-year-old

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A 24-year-old Camarillo man suspected of sexually assaulting two female residents of an assisted living facility where he worked, is now facing criminal charges, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Joel Gonzales, 24, appears in a photo released by the Ventura County District Attorney's Office to KTLA on Feb. 4, 2020.
Joel Gonzales, 24, appears in a photo released by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office to KTLA on Feb. 4, 2020.

Joel Gonzales was already in custody at Ventura County Jail on suspicion of strangling a 6-year-old girl when detectives identified him as a suspect in the sexual assault case, according to prosecutors.

He is accused of assaulting two women on Oct. 15, 2020, at Royal Gardens of Camarillo, a facility featuring apartments with 24/7 care services such as meal deliveries and assistance with bathing and dressing.

The victims’ ages have not been released but Ventura County Deputy District Attorney Thomas Steele described both women as being older than 70. Steele said Gonzales has been fired from the facility.

Gonzales has been charged with attempted murder for allegedly strangling a 6-year-old girl on Oct. 17, Steele said.

He allegedly broke into the child’s bedroom and “violently attacked her,” sheriff’s Capt. Eric Buschow told the Ventura County Star. Family members managed to put a stop to the assault, and authorities arrested him shortly after.

On Thursday, Gonzales pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder charge in that case as well as charges in the sexual assault case involving the living facility. Charges against him in the latter case include assault with the intent to commit rape, lewd acts upon a dependent person and kidnapping with the intent to commit lewd acts upon a dependent person.

In the sexual assault case, the allegations first surfaced after one of the victims came forward to authorities, Steele said. That led to Ventura County sheriff’s detectives discovering witnesses and other evidence indicating another woman was assaulted at the facility, he said.

“There are other pieces of evidence that help corroborate the victims’ accounts,” Steele said, describing “items of evidence” such as surveillance footage in common ares of the facility that help back up the suspected time frame of the crimes.

According to Steele, the sexual assaults occurred during the evening of Oct. 15, and just over 24 hours later, Gonzales allegedly went on to strangle the 6-year-old girl in the early morning hours of Oct. 17.

“Our belief is that they are related… he was in the same mindset,” Steele said, declining to go into further detail to protect the integrity of the investigation.

Authorities have not released a suspected motive.

Gonzales remains held without bail and is expected to make his next court appearance April 18.

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