A San Francisco man has been arrested as a suspect in the molestation of young relatives while in Santa Barbara from 2007 to 2009, and police say there may be more victims.
Sgt. Riley Harwood said Manuel Peter Munoz, 63, has been arrested on charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child while residing in the same home of a victim under 14 years of age; committing a lewd act upon a child under 14 years of age by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of great bodily injury to the victim or another person; and intimidating a witness or victim.
In April 2009, according to Harwood, detectives from the Santa Barbara Police Department’s Crimes Against Persons Unit started investigating reports that Munoz might be sexually abusing two boys.
This month, Detective Crystal Bedolla obtained enough evidence in the case to obtain a $1 million warrant for Munoz’s arrest, according to Harwood.
He said the investigation revealed that Munoz lived with the victims and their parents — to whom he was related — in Santa Barbara for about two years between 2007 and 2009. When entrusted to care for the victims — then ages 6 and 12 — Munoz allegedly molested them.
Harwood said Detective Bedolla notified the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit of the warrant for Munoz’s arrest. On Oct. 16, San Francisco officers found Munoz at his residence in the 1800 block of Divisadero Street, arrested him and booked him into San Francisco County Jail No. 1.
Last Thursday, Santa Barbara County Senior Deputy District Attorney Paula Waldman obtained an increase of Munoz’s bail to $5 million, according to Harwood. Last Friday, Bedolla and Santa Barbara Detective Mark Vierra went to San Francisco, took custody of Munoz and executed a search warrant at his residence.
After the search, Munoz was brought to Santa Barbara and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail.
Harwood said detectives believe that Munoz may have had the opportunity to look after other children while in Santa Barbara. Other victims of Munoz, or anyone with knowledge of additional victims, are asked to contact Detective Bedolla at 805.897.2426 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call anonymously to 805.897.2386.