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Man arrested for groping 12-year-old in Santee pleads not guilty

Ruvalcaba is facing one felony count of lewd and lascivious act on a child under 14-years-old with force.

SANTEE, Calif. — The man police say groped a 12-year-old girl in Santee pleaded not guilty in court.

On May 18, deputies said a 12-year-old Chett F Harritt School student was walking towards Big Rock Park just before 4 p.m. when 29-year-old Ruvalcaba groped her.

A friend with the student, another minor, intervened and a staff member from the Santee Teen Center called the police. Ruvalcaba was found on the black and gray scooter the students identified and seen on surveillance video right after the incident. He was booked into the San Diego Central Jail.

Ruvalcaba faces one felony count of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 years old with force.

Bail was originally set at $250,000, but Judge Harry Elias reduced the amount saying, "Bail was set at $250,000 because he was arrested for a charge different than the one that was filed with the complaint. The court indicated they intended to reduce bail to $100,000, the standard bail amount set for the charge in the complaint, so that bail will be set at $100,000."

A group of moms at Big Rock Park say they were shocked to hear what happened. They talked to CBS 8 anonymously, saying, "We just always pictured this as a safe space. I hadn't thought there could be a predator around our kids. We're always in a watchful mode, but having it happen is scary. I'm very happy that person was caught, but I also think it's an opportunity to bring parents together, especially those coming to these parks."

The moms also said this is a reminder to review a safety plan with kids. “We talk about how our body feels in different situations. He (my son) already knows how to identify when he's scared, hurt, or anything like that. If they're feeling unsafe, they know what to do. And they must stay in our safety perimeter instead of going off so no one lures them off. It's not stranger danger because we have a lot of great people. Most people are safe. It's how to trust yourself, so we build on that." 

One mom shares that it’s a good reminder to ensure everyone is safe. "Not only am I watching out for my kid, but I'm also watching out for other kids."

CBS 8 spoke with a man identifying himself as Ruvalcaba’s brother who says Ruvalcaba is not the monster this situation makes him out to be. 

He mentioned his brother’s difficulty interacting with others and said Ruvalcaba did not know the age of the girl.

Ruvalcaba’s next court date is May 31. If he makes bail, he’s been ordered to stay away from the minors in question, Big Rock Park, and Chett F Harrit School.

WATCH RELATED: Two registered sex offenders accused of attacking a teenage girl in El Cajon plead not guilty (March 2023).


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