A Banning man accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled woman over a five-year span made his initial court appearance Friday.

Rene Leonel Robles Cerna, 35, was arrested earlier this week following a months-long investigation by the Banning Police Department.

Cerna is charged with three counts of forcible rape of a mentally impaired victim and two counts each of forcible sodomy and penetration with a foreign object, with a sentence-enhancing allegation of causing physical damage.

The defendant appeared before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst, who appointed him a public defender and scheduled his arraignment for Monday at the Banning Justice Center.

Cerna is being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility.

According to Banning police, detectives were initially contacted about the assault allegations in the first half of 2020, culminating in an investigation that required extensive investigation because of the victim’s limitations.

Court documents allege that the defendant first abused the woman, identified only as “E.S.,” in the winter of 2015, and following that time, perpetrated additional offenses, ending in the winter of 2020.

The circumstances behind the alleged acts and how Cerna knew the victim were not disclosed. Authorities also did not reveal who ultimately reported the alleged offenses.

An arrest warrant was obtained and served on the defendant Tuesday, and he was taken into custody without incident at a residence on West Ramsey Street.

According to court records, Cerna has a prior misdemeanor conviction for driving the under the influence.

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