A 15-year-old girl on Monday described a yearlong sexual relationship with a then-61-year-old Modesto man that she said took a menacing turn when she broke it off with him.
The defendant, Robert Dingman, now 62, has pleaded not guilty to nearly two dozen charges in connection with the alleged relationship with the Merced teenager.
Judge Mark V. Bacciarini ordered Dingman to stand trial on 17 criminal counts including forcible sodomy, statutory rape, oral copulation with a minor, and lewd and lascivious acts with a minor.
The girl testified Monday, describing one encounter with Dingman when she said she told him to stop having sex with her, but, she said, he continued. She choked up on the witness stand describing the incident.
“You’re in that position where a person that you love is hurting you,” she testified.
Still, she said, she continued her relationship with Dingman for several more months.
After she broke off her relationship with Dingman, she said, he threatened to send her family nude photographs she had taken for him. She said he also began contacting her friends and threatened to assault her new boyfriend, who was also a teenager.
The girl said she first met Dingman on a sexual bondage website during the summer of 2013.
She initially told Dingman she was 18 and they struck up an online relationship that led to a face-to-face meeting in September that year, she said. Under questioning from Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Jamieson, she acknowledged misleading Dingman about her age during their first alleged sexual encounter, Sept. 14, 2013.
Bacciarini, later in the hearing, said “anyone with a modicum of common sense” would know the girl was not an adult.
She said Dingman asked her to wear special clothing, including the color white “because it was virginal.”
Between their first and second meeting, she testified, Dingman became aware of her true age, but the two continued their relationship for another year.
Merced police Detective Raquel Rios, the lead investigator in the case, also testified Monday. The detective said she found sexual photographs of the victim on Dingman’s personal computer.
Dingman, if convicted, faces about 30 years in prison and would be required to register as a sex offender, according to Michael McKinney, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case. McKinney said he expects to file additional charges.
Dingman remains in custody at the John Latorraca Correctional Facility on more than $1.3 million bail, according to jail records.
He is scheduled to appear in court again April 6 for arraignment.
Court records show Dingman was arrested in Stanislaus County in 1997 on suspicion of annoying or molesting a child, but the charge was later reduced to making repeated annoying phone calls to a residence. He was sentenced to three years of probation.