Booking mugshot

James Francisco Fuentes Jr., 42, of Santa Maria pleaded not guilty Wednesday to six felony charges stemming from an alleged sexual assault in Santa Maria last week

A 42-year-old man pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court to six felony charges stemming from an alleged sexual assault in Santa Maria last week. 

James Francisco Fuentes Jr. of Santa Maria appeared in court for his arraignment hearing before Judge Barry Hammer.

He was arrested Friday afternoon in connection with a sexual assault that occurred near 1400 East Main Street early Friday morning.

He has been charged with kidnap to commit robbery or rape, oral copulation by use of force or injury, attempted robbery, attempted rape by force or fear, preventing or dissuading a witness by threat, and burglary.

Fuentes, who was represented by attorney Brian Carroll, also faces several allegations including kidnap for the purpose of sexual assault and a second strike under the California Three Strikes Sentencing Law.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Gresser represented the District Attorney’s Office for the hearing.

The case will return May 18 for a preliminary hearing setting with the preliminary hearing tentatively set for May 23.

Santa Maria police detectives believe Fuentes may have committed prior assaults in Santa Maria, and asked that anyone with information on the incident or similar incidents call the Detective Bureau at 805.928.3781, extension 2278. 

Anonymous tips also can be provided via the department’s crime tip line by calling 805.928-3781 x COPS (2677). 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.