Another alleged victim of an accused serial rapist has come forward while he awaits trial behind bars on $1 million bail.
Joseph Frank Pineda Pimentel, 37, of Manteca, was in custody at the Dambacher Detention Center in Sonora on Wednesday when he was charged by Sonora police with a second count of forcible rape.
Pineda Pimentel was arrested by Sonora police on Sept. 7 at Adventist Health Sonora, where he works as a surgical technician, on suspicion of the same charge after DNA evidence allegedly linked him to the rape of homeless woman within the city limits on June 14.
Turlock police had previously arrested Pimentel on Sept. 2 and booked him into Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of raping a homeless woman there in a similar manner on June 4, though he was released after posting bond.
Sonora Police Officer Thomas Brickley said the new charge on Wednesday was the result of a third alleged female victim who came forward on Monday and accused Pineda Pimentel of raping her.
Brickley said he did not believe the third woman was homeless and that she may have been an acquaintance of Pineda Pimentel. He also didn’t know the date of the alleged crime or the conditions surrounding it.
"I am looking at the case this afternoon and will probably file if it is warranted," Tuolumne County Assistant District Attorney Eric Hovatter said in an email to The Union Democrat on Thursday afternoon.
The bail amount listed as $1.5 million for the new charge, though there was no mention of it during what was scheduled to be a bail review hearing for Pineda Pimentel in Tuolumne County Superior Court on Thursday.
Pineda Pimentel was initially booked on Sept. 7 with bail set at $150,000, before it was raised to $500,000 at the request of Sonora police.
Visiting Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Frank Dougherty further raised the bail amount for the initial rape charge to $1 million at Pineda Pimentel’s first court appearance on Sept. 9, where he pleaded not guilty and was appointed the public defender as his attorney.
The bail review hearing was ultimately cancelled because Deputy Public Defender Mark Smith did not file a motion to have Pineda Pimentel’s bail reduced from $1 million.
Hovatter said at the hearing on Thursday that he provided a declaration to the court and the defense on Tuesday that detailed the reasons for the bail increase. Dougherty said Pineda Pimentel’s bail would be unchanged.
After the hearing, Smith said he did not have any comment on the case. He said Pineda Pimentel would be represented by Deputy Public Defender Dana Gross, who was unavailable to appear on Thursday.
The next court date in the case was set to be next Thursday, Sept. 23, to schedule a time and date for a preliminary hearing, though that could change depending on what Hovatter does with the new accusation.
Both the Sonora and Turlock police departments issued news releases after Pineda Pimentel’s previous arrests describing a similar pattern in which the victims say they were walking along the side of the road — Stockton Road in the Sonora case and Greer Road in the Turlock case — when they were picked up by a man in a dark SUV.
The Sonora Police Department said a victim reported that she accepted the man’s offer for a ride, but he drove her to an undisclosed location instead of the attempted destination, ordered her out of the vehicle and raped her by force outside.
In Turlock, the victim told police she was picked up on Geer Road by a man in a dark SUV who was about 6 feet tall and 250 pounds. She said she initially declined his offer for a ride, but ultimately took it because he was persistent. He then took her behind a closed business and raped her.
Samples of DNA evidence were separately collected by the police departments in each city and sent for analysis, with Turlock police notified of a match for Pineda Pimentel on Aug. 30 and Sonora police on Aug. 31.
The Turlock Police Department, who described Pineda Pimentel as a “serial rapist” in its news release about the case, also said his DNA matched two other unsolved sexual assaults in two other counties, though no additional information on them has been released.
Detectives have said Pineda Pimentel’s DNA record was stemmed from a 2009 arrest on suspicion of rape while he was in the military, but that case was dismissed.
The Sonora Police Department said it worked with Turlock police during the investigation and was aware of his arrest there on Sept. 2, before arresting him Sept. 7 at Adventist Health Sonora without incident.
Jaquelyn Lugg, spokeswoman for Adventist Health Sonora, previously told The Union Democrat Pineda Pimentel had been removed from the work schedule and that there was no indication the charges involved a patient or any other employees, nor was his arrest the result of anything that happened on hospital grounds.
Sonora and Turlock police have said investigators are seeking public input on whether there are any additional victims, who are believed to reside in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada foothills.
Homeless advocates have been asked to encourage any additional victims to come forward.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sonora Police Department at (209) 532-8141 or Det. Tim Redd at the Turlock Police Department at (209) 664-7325.
Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at email@example.com or (209) 588-4526.