Breaking News
More () »

Santee antique car restoration shop owner accused of molesting two girls

The owner of Evolve Custom Automotive is charged with molesting two underage girls, paying them to model for him, and giving them drugs.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Row of classic 1955 - 1957 Chevys at a car show.

SANTEE, Calif. — An owner of a popular antique car restoration shop in Santee has been charged with sexually assaulting two underage girls.

Joshua Cantor, the owner of Evolve Custom Automotive Restoration, is now awaiting trial for 15 felony charges including performing lewd acts on a child under 14 years of age, attending illicit meetings with a minor, sending harmful matter with the intent to seduce a minor, sexual intercourse with a minor, and employing a minor to model for him, among other charges.

According to bail documents obtained by CBS 8, one of Cantor's alleged victims was just 11 years old. 

And while Cantor faces criminal charges, the Santee business owner also faces a civil lawsuit filed by one of the victims.

In the newly filed lawsuit obtained by CBS 8, a 17-year-old girl says Cantor groomed her over the course of nearly two years before assaulting her numerous times, up until the day he was arrested.

The girl, who is a minor and only known as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, says she first met Cantor at a family gathering in 2020.

In March 2022, Cantor promised to teach the girl how to drive a stick shift.

Weeks later, according to the lawsuit, Cantor picked the girl up and took her to her house where the two had intercourse during which Cantor took pictures of the girl.

Reads the lawsuit, "Cantor told Plaintiff he has sex with girls and takes photographs of them. Cantor bragged about a 'secret room' he had at his workshop where he had sex."

The abuse continued for several weeks when, according to the complaint, a pedestrian noticed Cantor "sexually assaulting" the young girl and called the police.

After Cantor was arrested, according to the complaint, police discovered Cantor's "secret room" at his house which was equipped with cameras, an air mattress, and photographs of the young girl inside. 

The civil complaint includes a declaration from the arrest warrant which reads, "Cantor is a great threat to public safety, particularly the most vulnerable members of society, young children. He specifically preys upon young and impressionable girls by befriending their parents or guardians. Cantor earns their trust, then takes advantage of their children. Cantor uses gifts, money, food, and fun outings to lure his victims: His crimes are committed through secrecy and deception. Cantor owns a very large and successful automotive restoration business. Cantor has the financial means to travel and should be considered a flight risk. Any bail amount will serve no function of protecting the community and the victims. If Cantor makes bail, he will be able to continue to communicate and lure victims as he has done in this case."

Attorney Maria Severson represents the 17-year-old victim.

Severson tells CBS 8 that her client will forever be traumatized by the abuse she suffered at the hands of the Santee businessman.

"A 43-year-old preyed on a teenager and pre-teen, using power and manipulation to get close and in my client’s case, sexually assault and rape her without her lawful consent. She will have to live with that for the rest of her life."

Added Severson, "Cantor groomed her and he used his position as a trusted family friend to create opportunities to get her alone, then betrayed that trust and sexually assaulted her."

Severson says the girl is demanding Cantor to acknowledge his crimes and own up to what he did. 

"Cantor’s actions as those of a manipulative predator. Young girls and women like my client need to be heard and valued, and sexual abusers like Cantor need to be held accountable for the harm they cause.  

Attorneys for Cantor declined to comment for this story.

Before You Leave, Check This Out