A 19-year-old Mission Viejo church counselor, who had been charged with molesting two 8-year-old girls, pleaded not guilty Friday to a new complaint alleging a third victim.
Nicholas David Cruz, who entered his plea in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana on Friday, was ordered to return to court Oct. 8 for a pretrial hearing in the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach. He is charged with four felony counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14.
In a motion law enforcement filed to increase Cruz’s bail, police alleged that while on a July 23 school trip from the Boomers arcade in Irvine back to Mission Viejo Christian Church at 27192 Jeronimo Road Cruz allegedly forced a victim to touch him multiple times.
A woman called Orange County sheriff’s deputies last month, alleging that Cruz had molested her child during a bus ride home from a summer camp outing in Irvine, said Kim Mohr of the Irvine Police Department.
Further investigation led police to a second 8-year-old victim allegedly molested during a field trip to Buena Park July 18, Mohr said.
The third girl was allegedly molested between June 1 and July 21, according to the criminal complaint.
Cruz, who began working at the church in December, was fired from his part-time camp counselor job with 8- and 9-year-olds at Mission Viejo Christian Church, Mohr said.
Detectives suspect there may be more victims, according to Mohr, who asked anyone with information to call Detective Mudassar Mahmood at 949-724- 7130 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
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