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Atwater man in jail for improper contact with minor, police say

ATWATER -- Henry Esparza Jr., 41, was arrested Friday by Atwater police on four felony counts of having lewd or lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14.

Detective Armando Echevarria said police received reports of Esparza's activities Wednesday night and he was arrested early Friday morning. He was charged with molesting a 14-year-old girl over a period of several years.

Esparza was booked into Merced County Jail on charges of lewd and lascivious acts, penetration with a foreign object, continuous abuse of a minor and oral copulation of a person under age 14. He remained jailed Sunday night in lieu of $450,000 bail, according to a correctional official.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or