SAN DIEGO — A former San Diego County sheriff's sergeant who allegedly tried to meet up with a minor for sex pleaded not guilty Friday to felony and misdemeanor sex charges.
Luis Rios, 55, is accused of soliciting sex from a person he believed was a 15-year-old boy, then trying to meet with the supposed teen in person.
The investigation into Rios, who had been with the department for over 25 years, was sparked by videos posted online by citizens' group People V. Preds. Members of the group posed as minors and say Rios engaged in sexually explicit conversations with at least one supposed teenager, then attempted to meet with a minor in public.
In one video, a member of People V. Preds encounters an SUV driver in a shopping center parking lot. The driver, alleged to be Rios, states that he was there to pick up food, while the person shooting the video accuses the driver of being there to meet with a minor.
The criminal complaint filed against Rios states the alleged meet-up attempt happened in March.
Rios is charged with felony counts of attending an arranged illicit meeting with a minor and contacting a minor with the intent to commit a sexual offense, as well as a misdemeanor count of arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd and lascivious behavior.
"Just like any other case that we review and decide whether or not to charge, it's the same whether or not it's a vigilante or any other law enforcement officer, we go based on what the evidence show," said Franciesca Balerio, Deputy District Attorney. "Per the penal code, it doesn't have to be an actual minor. It can be a person they believe to be a minor."
Rios faces up to four years in state prison if convicted of all charges.
Details of his arrest have not been shared publicly, but county jail records indicate he was booked into custody on Wednesday.
WATCH RELATED: Cyber vigilante groups go undercover to expose child predators (Nov. 2022).