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27-year-old man pleads not guilty to attempted rape of elderly woman

Prosecutors allege Hugo Espinoza-Martinez sexually assaulted 78-year-old victim in a church.

SAN DIEGO — A 27-year-old man suspected of sexually assaulting a 78-year-old woman at a Mira Mesa church pleaded not guilty Thursday to two felony counts, assault to commit rape and dissuading a witness.

Deputy district attorney Alex Willette said the defendant attempted to dissuade the elderly victim "in respect of trying to make a police report."

Detectives arrested Hugo Espinoza-Martinez at 1 p.m. on Tuesday in the 10700 block of Westview Parkway, near Mira Mesa Boulevard and the 15 Freeway, less than a half-mile from the site of the alleged sex crime, according to the San Diego Police Department.

Espinoza-Martinez allegedly showed up at the church in the 10700 block
of Rickert Road around noon on Friday and asked the victim, who was alone inside the building, if he could use the restroom, SDPD Lt. Carmelin Rivera said.

"The woman let the man inside, and, after he spent several minutes in
the restroom, she asked him to leave,'' Rivera said. "The man left the
restroom, pulled the woman into a nearby room, and sexually assaulted her.
During the attack, the woman fought back and was able to get away.''

The assailant then fled, Rivera said.

In court Thursday, Judge Laura Halgren ordered Espinoza-Martinez held without bail, pending a bail review hearing set for December 6.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego police arrest man accused of sexually assaulting elderly woman at church (Nov. 2022).

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