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Suspect Confesses to Molesting Girl as ‘Payback,’ Police Say

40-year-old Santa Barbara man tells officers he was molested as a child

A Santa Barbara man admitted to police after he was arrested Sunday that he molested a 5-year-old girl in his home as “payback” for his own history of being molested as a child.

Jose Vazquez Prestegui
Jose Vazquez Prestegui

Jose Vazquez Prestegui, 40, of Santa Barbara, is facing charges of committing a lewd act on a child younger than age 14, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood of the Santa Barbara Police Department

Police officers responded to an Eastside home around 3:30 p.m. Sunday after the caller reported a child had been molested. The incident was reported to have occurred at Prestegui’s home, which he shared with several families.

When three officers arrived at the scene, Prestegui fled from the house but was located at a home in the 400 block of North Voluntario Street a short time later, according to Harwood.

He said a 5-year-old girl was visiting a friend who lived in the home and had wandered into Prestegui’s living area during a game of hide-and-seek. The girl began watching television with Prestegui, who allegedly fondled one of the victim’s intimate body parts through her clothing.

The victim told her 17-year-old cousin, who alerted adults who were also at the residence.

Prestegui was confronted by one of the adults about the child’s allegation, and the police were called.

Prestegui was arrested and transported to the police station, where he was interviewed by Crimes Against Persons Detective Brian Larson. Harwood said Prestegui admitted to molesting the girl, stating that it was “like payback” for when he was molested as a child.

Prestegui was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail. His bail was set at $100,000.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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