A probationer accused of molesting a Riverside boy in a library bathroom, as well as assaulting two other boys years before, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to five counts of lewd acts on a minor.
Juan Francisco Palacios, 32, was arrested in 2018 following a Riverside police investigation into his alleged sexual assault of a 6-year-old boy, whose name was not released.
Palacios was charged for that alleged attack, as well as allegedly sexually assaulting two San Bernardino boys in 2012 and 2013. Those victims also were not identified.
Palacios was due for arraignment in the summer of 2018, but doubts arose regarding his mental competency, leading to a series of psychiatric exams and court hearings that delayed criminal proceedings until now.
Palacios was ultimately found competent to answer the charges against him and stand trial if necessary.
Palacios was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge O.G. Mango, who scheduled a preliminary hearing for April 27 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Mango left Palacios held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
According to Riverside Police Department Officer Ryan Railsback, the alleged assault involving the 6-year-old Riverside boy occurred on July 18, 2018, at the Duran Eastside Library in the 4000 block of Chicago Avenue.
Railsback said the victim was at the location with his father and headed into the bathroom alone just after 5 p.m. Security surveillance video cameras recorded what transpired outside the restroom — capturing Palacios as he loitered nearby and then allegedly ducked into the lavatory seconds after the child went inside, according to Railsback.
Palacios cornered the boy and committed unspecified acts, then quickly exited the bathroom and the library, walking in the direction of a shopping center on University Avenue, Railsback said.
The child emerged moments later, telling his father what had occurred, prompting the man to call 911, Railsback said.
Relying on the videotape, detectives identified Palacios as the alleged perpetrator and began searching for the transient.
On the afternoon of July 22, staff at the Riverside Main Public Library on Mission Inn Avenue spotted Palacios hanging around, recognized him as the alleged assailant described in law enforcement notices and called police.
Palacios was taken into custody without a struggle a short time later, according to Railsback.
No details were disclosed concerning the alleged assaults in San Bernardino.
Court records show Palacios has a prior conviction for possession of child pornography.
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