A felon from Desert Hot Springs accused of sexually abusing a developmentally disabled 18-year-old relative and her underage sister re-entered not guilty pleas to felony charges Friday.

Carlos Alberto Lopez, 51, originally pleaded not guilty to all charges Dec. 30, 2022, after his case was dismissed due to lack of court rooms and charges were immediately re-filed, according to court records.

He faces the same 12 felony counts — four of raping an unconsenting adult, four of incest, two of committing lewd acts on a child under 14 years old and one felony count each of sodomy on an incompetent victim and committing three or more lewd acts on a child under 14 years old.

On Jan. 12, Lopez waived his rights to a preliminary hearing and Riverside County Court Judge Valerie Navarro ruled that there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial for Lopez on all charges. He re-entered not guilty pleas Friday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.

Lopez was first charged in February 2018 for crimes that allegedly occurred more than a year earlier. He remains held at the John J. Benoit Detention Center in Indio on $1 million bail.

The alleged abuse came to light when the mother of both victims came home on Jan. 4, 2017, and saw her 18-year-old autistic daughter naked, according to a declaration in support of arrest warrant prepared by Desert Hot Springs Detective Troy Castillo.

The daughter — who has the intellect of a 7-year-old — then told her mother that she had just had sex with the defendant, according to Castillo.

The day after, the mother and the victim were interviewed by authorities, and the daughter admitted to having sex with Lopez more than 20 times, always when the mother was out of the house, the document says.

A few days later, Castillo interviewed Lopez, and he allegedly admitted to having sex with the autistic victim on several occasions, but said it was always her idea. The girl also admitted to authorities that it was her idea, and that force was never used, the declaration says.

Authorities subsequently interviewed the victim’s 9-year-old sister, who said Lopez touched her inappropriately several times, according to court papers. During the interview with law enforcement, he denied the allegations involving the younger girl, and was later arrested.

Lopez has previous felony convictions in Riverside County including spousal abuse and criminal threats.

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