Former sex offender accused of assaulting woman after date

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comDecember 14, 2012 

A former volunteer at a Nipomo nonprofit organization faces two felony charges for allegedly sexually assaulting another volunteer last summer, according to court records.

Christobal Hernandez Lopez Sr., 64, of Arroyo Grande, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which stemmed from a dinner date between friends.

Lopez, who has bailed out of jail and briefly appeared in court this week, will return to court for a pre-trial hearing Jan. 23.

According to investigators’ reports, the following occurred on July 26, 2012:

The alleged victim, 52, of Nipomo, invited Lopez to dinner in Pismo Beach. During the date, they hugged and kissed, and the woman invited Lopez back to her place for tea. While in her kitchen, Lopez began to grope her. The woman told him, “OK, that’s enough — we need to stop,” according to her statements to deputies, and tried repeatedly to push him away. While pinning the woman against a counter, Lopez then pulled her clothes down and sexually assaulted her.

He stayed for 20 more minutes, drinking tea, before he left.

The next day, according to the reports, Lopez sent her a text, saying, “Are you alright? I’m sorry. I let God, you & myself down. I hope you can forgive me . . . I shake as I text you this, knowing I should have listened to you.”

At first, she responded, “It’s ok” and “lets just be friends.” But later she wrote, “What happened was wrong.” When he responded, “kissing & holding you, I had no defence (sic),” she was more firm, responding, “It was sexual assault Chris. I said no as soon as you got under my clothes. That you don’t see it that way is even more alarming.”

The woman reported the incident while at a court-ordered DUI class in Grover Beach.

When investigators questioned him, Lopez allegedly said he felt seduced and never heard the woman tell him to stop. He said he was unsure why the woman made the report.

His attorney, Mark Powers, was unavailable for comment Friday.

According to court records, Lopez had been a prior registered sex offender — based on a case from 1977 — though he was given a certificate of rehabilitation in 1997. Offenders can apply for a certificate, meaning they no longer have to register as a sex offender, seven years after release from custody or from parole or probation.

Lopez is no longer a volunteer at the Nipomo Food Basket, where he and the victim helped out. The organization provides food to low-income people.

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