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Man Who Pleaded Guilty to Sexual Assault in Downtown Nightclub Faces Prison Time, Deportation

Elpidio Garcia-Venegas

A man who pleaded guilty to sexual-battery charges in 2012 after he allegedly pinned a woman against a wall and began touching her sexually in a downtown Santa Barbara nightclub will face two years in prison before he is deported to Mexico.

Elpidio Garcia-Venegas, 29, was taken into custody on Aug. 21, 2012, on felony sexual-battery charges after three officers responded to a call at Tonic Nightclub at 634 State St.

Garcia-Venegas allegedly pinned a woman against a wall and began touching her sexually on the club’s dance floor, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

He pleaded guilty to felony sexual battery by restraint on May 21, and was sentenced this week to two years in state prison, according to Paula Waldman, senior deputy district attorney for the Vulnerable Victims Unit.

“He will serve his prison time, then be deported to Mexico,” she said. “Should he ever return to the U.S., he must register for life as a sex offender.”

After the assault, Garcia-Venegas later declined to make a statement, other than to initially say that he had been “sexy dancing” with girls at the nightclub, Sgt. Riley Harwood told Noozhawk at the time.

When officers arrived, Garcia-Venegas had been detained by club security, and police contacted the alleged victim, a 22-year-old female foreign student who was very distraught over the incident.

The woman alleged Garcia-Venegas approached her and offered to buy her a drink. She agreed, and the pair moved to the dance floor, where he allegedly pressed the victim through the crowd and toward the raised DJ booth.

The victim stated she found herself unable to get away from Garcia-Venegas, who said he pressed her against the wall, and began to sexually assault her on the dimly-lit dance floor.

The assault was spotted when a passing busboy, who observed the two against the wall and noticed that the victim was crying and had a panicked look on her face.

The busboy confronted Garcia-Venegas, who started to move toward the door. He was restrained by the busboy, who alerted security and was detained until police arrived.

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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