An 18-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting a 15- year-old girl in Thermal while giving her a ride home pleaded not guilty Monday.
Richard Beltran Ortega of Indio was charged with one felony count of sexual penetration with bodily injury on a minor over the age of 14, according to court records.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge at the Larson Justice Center in Indio on Monday afternoon.
Deputies responded to the 83800 block of Airport Boulevard on the morning of May 18 in reference to a girl who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Ortega, according to Sgt. David Aldrich from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Ortega was giving the girl a ride home when he allegedly sexually assaulted her, Aldrich said. She attempted to get out of the vehicle but struggled, and the suspect allegedly drove her to another location.
She escaped after Ortega allegedly sexually assaulted her twice, according to Aldrich. She reported the attack and was subsequently taken to a hospital.
Ortega was identified as the suspect and he was arrested last Wednesday in the 83100 block of Albion Drive in Indio.
He was booked into the John J. Benoit Detention Center and was being held on $1 million bail.
Anyone with information on the alleged attack was asked to contact Investigator Torres of the Thermal sheriff’s station at 760-863-8461.