The alleged victim’s mother contacted Santa Paula Police Tuesday, June 24 at about 2 p.m. to report her child was possibly a victim of a sexual assault that had occurred the day before.
An immediate investigation revealed that the suspect, 49-year-old Jose Francisco Romero of Santa Paula, had been a family friend for about five years; he had been staying with the victim’s relative temporarily while looking for a permanent place to live.
Investigators determined that on the afternoon of June 23 Romero asked the 6-year-old female to enter his room so he could show her some pictures.
When the victim entered his room, Romero allegedly asked the victim to sit on his lap and showed the girls photos of a sexual organ on his phone. While showing the girl the pictures, Romero allegedly used his other hand to touch the victim’s private area.
Police said preliminary interviews of the involved parties indicate Romero touched the victim under her clothing, making direct contact with her skin.
Police arrested Romero without incident at his place of employment and he was booked at Ventura County Jail for suspicion of committing lewd acts with a child under 14 years-of-age and exposing a child to lewd harmful materials.
Commander Ish Cordero said the police believe there might be other victims: “That’s one of the reasons for putting the press release out... usually we don’t,” in such cases but, “Being that this guy works locally in the community, you never know,” if others were victimized.
Cordero said child victims of abuse undergo very careful questioning during one interview only to minimize any trauma: “The interviews are conducted at Safe Harbor,” and involve only a police representative and a victim’s advocate.
There is two-way glass to allow others, including a prosecutor and social worker, to observe the questioning.
Cordero said parents are discouraged from being present during the interview “Because the victims might be shy with a parent present... “
Cordero asked that anyone with any information about the incident, Romero or possible other victims to call SPPD Detective Allen Macias, 525-4474 ext 220.
If the caller would prefer to remain anonymous, they can call the SPPD recorded Tip Hotline, 933-5691.
In addition, tips can be emailed to the SPPD at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against a person(s) responsible for certain crimes.
The caller may remain anonymous and the call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).
Ventura County Crime Stoppers can also be contacted by texting “Busted” plus your message to CRIMES (274637).
Crime Stopper Tips can also be sent via the website, www.venturacountycrimestoppers.org