Santa Nella man pleads no contest to Facebook molestation charges

06/25/2014 2:14 PM

06/25/2014 9:14 PM

A Santa Nella man pleaded no contest Wednesday to felony charges of contacting at least three minors via Facebook with intent to commit sexual offenses and a misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a child.

Jose Pulido entered his plea before Judge Marc A. Garcia in Merced Superior Court.

Pulido, 22, faces a potential maximum prison sentence of six years and will be required to register as a sex offender for life, according to Michael McKinney, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case.

Nine additional counts, including one felony count of unlawful sex with a 17-year-old girl, will be dismissed when Pulido is sentenced Aug. 20, McKinney confirmed.

McKinney said prosecutors agreed to dismiss the unlawful sex charge after speaking with the alleged victim in the case.

“That charge does not require him to register (as a sex offender) and the other charges carry stiffer penalties,” McKinney told the Sun-Star.

Pulido’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Sean Howard, was not available for comment Wednesday.

In all, Pulido was charged with victimizing 13 underage girls, mostly through social media websites, between January and April, according to the complaint.

Investigators learned of Pulido’s activities in March after the mother of a 13-year-old girl uncovered a series of exchanges on Facebook between Pulido and her daughter. Pulido communicated with the girl frequently between Jan. 27 and March 2, according to a report filed by the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.

“I think this case expresses the importance for parents to keep an eye on what their children are doing online,” McKinney said. “It certainly could’ve turned out much worse if the girls had agreed to meet with him.”

The girl told Pulido she was 13, the report says, but he encouraged her to meet him for intercourse at a motel where he worked in Santa Nella, the report says.

Pulido remains in custody at the Merced County Jail.

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