A Van Nuys man who allegedly molested a 5-year-old girl after luring her to an isolated area of a parking lot in a Panorama City shopping center last year pleaded not guilty Friday to felony charges.
Jorge Enrique Lopez Maza, 26, is charged with one count each of committing a lewd act on a child and kidnapping to commit a lewd act on a child.
The charges include allegations that the girl was under the age of 14, that he kidnapped her and that the movement of the victim substantially increased the risk of harm to her.
Lopez Maza allegedly approached the girl on April 21, 2016, after she became separated from her grandmother at the Panorama Mall and convinced her to go with him to find her grandmother, according to testimony presented during the defendant’s preliminary hearing last month.
He allegedly attacked the girl, who was about a month shy of her 6th birthday, after leading her outside the mall to an isolated area within the parking lot.
A good Samaritan who heard the girl scream chased Lopez Maza several blocks to a local market, where he was ultimately apprehended by police, according to Deputy District Attorney Julie Kramer.
Lopez Maza — who is due back in a San Fernando courtroom for a pretrial hearing June 19 — faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted as charged.
— City News Service
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