Trial proceedings for a ride-hailing driver accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl at a Palm Desert resort were abruptly stopped — and a mistrial declared — because the defendant fell ill, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office reported Wednesday.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Albert J. Wojcik declared the mistrial on the second day of jury selection for the trial of Ismael Gaspar of Cathedral City at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
Gaspar, who remains free on $55,000 bail, is scheduled to return to court at the Larson Justice Center in Indio on April 1, where a new trial date could be set.
The defendant is charged with one count each of burglary and committing lewd acts with a child under 14 years old, and two counts each of oral copulation of a minor under 14 years old and providing a minor with a controlled substance.
He faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in state prison if convicted as charged.
Gaspar was arrested March 26, 2018, on suspicion of sexually assaulting the teen days earlier at the Marriott Shadow Ridge Resort.
According to a trial brief prepared by Deputy District Attorney Gypsy Yeager, Gaspar met the girl two days before the alleged assault when he picked her up for a ride. The two allegedly smoked methamphetamine before exchanging contact information, during which she told the defendant her true age, according to the prosecution.
Gaspar drove for Lyft at the time, according to court documents.
The pair allegedly met up again on March 20, 2018. According to the trial brief, he brought her roses and the two smoked marijuana before they went to the resort, where the defendant allegedly broke into the gym and sexually assaulted the victim inside.
The teen “told the defendant she did not want to have sex, but she was afraid if she didn’t, the defendant would kidnap her and steal her belongings,” the brief says.
Gaspar has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County.
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