An Adventist Health Sonora employee and Stanislaus County resident who was arrested by Sonora police Tuesday on suspicion of raping a local homeless woman in June had also been arrested on similar charges just a week before in Modesto.
The Sonora Police Department reported on its Facebook page Wednesday afternoon that Joseph Frank Pineda Pimentel, 37, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of rape using force or fear.
According to Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office booking logs, Pineda Pimentel was arrested at Adventist Health Sonora about noon Tuesday before being booked into the Tuolumne County Jail, where he remained on $150,000 bail as of Wednesday afternoon.
Jaquelyn Lugg, spokeswoman for Adventist Health Sonora, confirmed Pineda Pimentel was an employee at the hospital. She said he had been removed from the schedule and was not currently working, but he was not released from his position at this time.
"There is no indication that these charges involve a patient or any other of our employees," she said. "The arrest was not due to anything that happened on hospital grounds."
Lugg said in an email the hospital could not comment at this time on additional personal details when asked for the duration of his employment.
Sheriff's Office booking logs identify him as a surgical technician.
Sonora Police Officer Thomas Brickley said there are no credible leads at this time indicating there were additional victims in Tuolumne County or the City of Sonora.
Pineda Pimentel is accused of raping a homeless woman on June 4 in Sonora and June 14 in Turlock, according to seperate news releases from the police departments in both cities.
The Sonora Police Department said a victim reported that she was picked up by a Hispanic man in a dark SUV who offered her a ride. The victim said she accepted the offer, but the man drove to an undisclosed location instead of the attempted destination.
The victim said she was ordered out of the vehicle and raped by force outside.
The Turlock Police Department, who described Pineda Pimentel as a serial rapist, said a homeless woman told police she was picked up on Geer Road in Turlock by a Hispanic man in a dark SUV who was about 6 feet tall and 250 pounds.
The victim said the suspect offered her a ride and offered to help her. She declined, but consented to the ride because he was persistent.
"Instead of taking her to where she was going, he drove behind a closed business and raped her by force," the Turlock Police Department said. "The victim cooperated with the investigation and consented to a medical sexual assault investigation, where biological evidence was located."
The Sonora and Turlock police departments separately collected DNA samples from the respective victims for forensic examination.
On Aug. 30, the Turlock Police Department was notified that the DNA matched Pineda Pimentel and other unsolved sexual assaults in two other counties.
An additional county where an alleged crime occurred has not been identified by law enforcement.
"The circumstances in all three were very similar," the release said. "Detectives also learned Pineda’s DNA record was from the military in 2009, where he had been arrested and charged with rape. That case was ultimately dismissed."
The Sonora Police Department said they were notified of the DNA match on Aug. 31.
Pineda was arrested by the Turlock Police Department on Sept. 2 in south Modesto. His location was determined after an arrest warrant was issued as a result of a collaborative investigation by detectives, a special investigations unit and the community and crime information analyst.
When the suspect was located, he reportedly had just picked up a homeless woman that he met the day before. The woman said she only knew his first name and had been offered a ride and something to eat.
Pineda Pimentel was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of rape using force or fear, though an online database called Vinelink said he bonded out of custody. It did not provide the date of when he was released.
The Sonora Police Department release said they worked with the Turlock Police Department and learned of his arrest on Sept. 2.
Investigators made contact with him Tuesday and took him into custody, "without incident," the Sonora Police Department said.
Both news releases included an admonition that Pineda Pimentel was presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The Sonora Police Department identified his residence in Manteca, which the Turlock Police Department identified as in Denair, both of which are in Stanislaus County.
Brickley and other law enforcement officials said investigators are seeking public input on if there are any additional victims.
Additional victims are believed to reside in the Central Valley and foothills. They are asking homeless resources groups to encourage potential 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 588-4526.