Joseph Frank Pineda Pimentel

Joseph Frank Pineda Pimentel

District attorneys in multiple counties could determine within the next week whether they will combine efforts against a former surgical technician at Adventist Health Sonora who is accused of being a serial rapist.

Joseph Frank Pineda Pimentel, 37, who’s accused of six rapes spanning Tuolumne, Fresno and Stanislaus counties, appeared in Tuolumne County Superior Court on Friday via video from the Dambacher Detention Center in Sonora for a hearing that was ultimately delayed until next week.

The delay came at the request of Tuolumne County Assistant District Attorney Eric Hovatter, who told Judge Donald Segerstrom that he and district attorneys in the two other counties where Pineda Pimentel is accused of raping women were “working on formulating a group effort.”

“You mean, one county prosecuting them all?” Segerstrom asked.

“Yes,” Hovatter replied, “so we were going to” ask Segerstrom to delay Friday’s hearing by a week.

Segerstrom and Pineda Pimentel’s hired attorney, Alonzo Gradford, based in Modesto, both agreed to the delay and re-scheduled the hearing for next Thursday, Oct. 14.

The purpose of Friday’s hearing was to schedule a date for his preliminary examination, which is where a judge determines whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to bring a case to trial.

Hovatter said in an interview after Friday’s hearing that Fresno and Stanislaus counties were the only others he was currently aware of that have “active investigations and/or formal charges filed” against Pineda Pimentel, though he didn’t know exactly how many in each.

Pineda Pimentel is charged in Tuolumne County with two felony counts of forcible rape related to two separate incidents.

One of the Tuolumne County cases involves a homeless woman who said she was walking along Stockton Road on June 14 when she accepted a ride from a man in a dark SUV who took her to a secluded location other than her intended destination, potentially shot her up with methamphetamine, ordered her out of the vehicle and raped her.

The second involves a woman who wasn’t homeless and is believed to have potentially been an acquaintance of Pineda Pimentel’s who came forward after he was arrested at Adventist Health Sonora on Sept. 7.

Pineda Pimentel was arrested at the hospital after the Sonora Police Department received confirmation that his DNA matched a sample taken from the first alleged victim. It was less than a week after he was arrested in Modesto on Sept. 2 under similar circumstances, though he bonded out of custody from the Stanislaus County Jail.

He has remained behind bars in Tuolumne County on $1 million bail.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 768-5175.