Two former Desert Sands Unified School District volunteers who are accused of sex crimes involving children entered not guilty pleas to felony and misdemeanor charges and are due back at the Larson Justice Center on July 10 for a trial-readiness conference.
Palm Desert residents Devin Daniel Lujan, 28, and James McCall Anderson, 32, were re-arraigned Friday after previously being held to answer to charges stemming from alleged crimes that prosecutors say occurred in 2017.
The pair were arrested last summer in the 74000 block of Scholar Lane in Palm Desert after deputies were tipped off to an allegation of child sexual abuse, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Following a preliminary hearing in May, a judge ruled that prosecutors presented sufficient evidence to proceed to trial on some — but not all — of the charges previously filed by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
Lujan was held to answer to one count each of committing lewd acts with a minor and willful child cruelty and two counts of oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child under 10 years old, along with two sentence-enhancing allegations of committing sex offenses involving multiple victims.
The judge dismissed another count of committing lewd acts with a minor, and a misdemeanor child abuse count.
Lujan’s alleged victims “were known to the defendant,” according to district attorney’s office spokesman John Hall.
Anderson faces two felony counts of sending pornographic material to minors and two misdemeanor counts of committing immoral acts before a minor. The criminal complaint alleges the defendant was “habitually drunk” in the presence of at least one child in his care or custody.
A judge dismissed four child pornography-related felony charges against Anderson and one misdemeanor count of endangering or abusing a child.
Both defendants volunteered at George Washington Charter School in Palm Desert, according to Desert Sands Unified School District spokeswoman Mary Perry, and Lujan was also a teacher at the Bermuda Dunes Learning Center.
Anderson remains free on $30,000 bail, while Lujan is being held at the Indio jail in lieu of $5 million bail.
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