SAN BERNARDINO – A Rialto man pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to three felony counts of having sex with a minor, the latest in a series of cases that ties two San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies with underage victims, a celebrated attorney and the suspension of a youth program designed to promote law enforcement careers.
Jason Henry Anguiano, 27, was led away in handcuffs on Tuesday after bail was set at $225,000 by Superior Court Judge Michael Dest.
Anguiano, who was not in custody at the time of his arraignment, appeared in court at 8:30 a.m.
Anguiano was charged with two counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object on a minor plus another count of illegal intercourse with a minor.
The victim was part of the San Bernardino County Explorer’s program, which was supervised by former deputy Nathan Gastineau, 31, of Redlands. Gastineau, who was arrested in April for similar crimes against the same victim, has also pleaded not guilty.
The Explorer Scout program provides youths who are interested in law enforcement careers a chance to experience police work. Explorers generally do not stay out on ride-along patrols past 10 p.m., said an Explorer leader.
At Gastineau’s arraignment last week, well-known attorney Gloria Allred appeared on behalf of the victim. The attorney, however, was not present at Anguiano’s arraignment on Tuesday.
Gastineau has been accused of six felony counts in his contact with the victim, allegedly made during night encounters.
Anguiano and Gastineau are acquaintances through another organization called Inland Empire Ghostbusters, a group whose members dresses in costumes for community events.
Reports are that Gastineau, after he was arrested, aided detectives in implicating Anguiano on similar charges. It is not known if Gastineau made a deal for his cooperation.
Anguiano is a project manager and not connected with law enforcement.
The case first drew attention in April when Gastineau was arrested. The victim’s father appeared on a Southern California television station, which brought the case further into the spotlight.
Two weeks later, on April 25, Anguiano was arrested after evidence was obtained, with police reportedly discovering a receipt from a Redlands motel.
Some 245 Explorer volunteers were connected with the 15 county sheriff’s substations. Part of the program includes ride-along patrols.
Gastineau, a 10-year employee with the sheriff’s department, has since left his position with the department, though it has not been disclosed if he was terminated or resigned.
Another sheriff’s deputy, Anthony Benjamin, was arrested in Victorville for allegedly having sex with another female Explorer. That arrest led Sheriff Rod Hoops to suspend the Explorer’s program for 60 days.
Benjamin, a five-year deputy, will be arraigned on July 6.
Hoops, who has not decided whether or not to resume the Explorer program, has said the Gastineau and Benjamin cases are not related.
Unless Anguiano can post bail, he will remain in custody until his pre-trial hearing on July 12.
Allred, who has represented a number of clients in high profile cases, appeared in the San Bernardino County courtroom beside her teenage client last week. After the courtroom proceedings, Allred stood in front of the downtown courthouse alongside her client, saying she was there “to protect my client’s rights.”
“I ask that my client and her parents’ names be kept private,” said Allred, speaking in front of a group of media and other onlookers. “My client wishes to maintain her privacy.”
Allred, who has said she is interested in the Benjamin case, said she was retained by the victim’s parents. She did not say whether or not there will eventually be a lawsuit filed in the case.