SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The city of San Diego's "streets czar" molested a young female relative nearly eight years ago, a prosecutor said Thursday, but an attorney for the defendant told jurors that the inappropriate touching never happened.
Mario Sierra, who was appointed last year to the post of director of San Diego's Transportation and Stormwater Department, is charged with a felony count of committing a lewd act on a child. He has been placed on unpaid leave from his city job pending the outcome of the criminal case.
Deputy District Attorney Fanny Yu alleged in her opening statement that the 48-year-old defendant molested the girl in 2004, when she was 9 or 10 years old.
The girl, now 18, told her mother about the alleged abuse in 2010 after they watched an "Oprah" show on the subject of abuse.
A year ago, the girl made a "pretext call" to the defendant in which he admitted the molestation, Yu told the jury.
The girl testified that Sierra put her hand on his private area while they were lying on the couch and watching a television show in which people were having sex.
Defense attorney Thomas Warwick told the jury that there was "no inappropriate touching" of the girl by his client.
Warwick said the girl's mother told her family she was molested as a child and constantly told her children to report any sexual abuse right away.
Sierra faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.
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