SANTA ANA (CNS) - A 45-year-old Santa Ana restaurant worker was charged today with sexually assaulting three girls and a boy dating back to 2001. Javier Ortiz-Pichardo was arrested at his home Thursday and was being held in lieu of $1 million bail, according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, who said one of the alleged victims is a female relative who the defendant is accused of molesting over a nearly 10-year period.
Ortiz-Pichardo is charged with one count of rape and 24 counts alleging lewd acts with a minor younger than 14 and younger than 10. He also faces sentencing enhancement allegations of multiple victims, substantial sexual conduct and committing a sex crime during a burglary. Pichardo, who lists his occupation as a cook in jail records, met the boy in 1999, when the child was 7 years old, while working at the New China restaurant in Santa Ana, which closed in 2004, Bertagna said.
The boy's family were regulars at the restaurant, and Pichardo is accused of molesting the victim in a bathroom at the eatery, Bertagna said. The suspect befriended the family and would bring them food at no cost, according to Bertagna. At some point, the family trusted him enough to pick the boy up from school, Bertagna said. The alleged molestation stopped when the boy --listed as John Doe in the criminal complaint -- turned 14 and his family lost contact with Pichardo, Bertagna said.
Recently, the alleged victim -- who is now 26 -- saw Pichardo at a McDonald's restaurant, prompting him to recall the years of alleged abuse, Bertagna said. He followed Pichardo out of the parking lot, jotted down his license plate number and called police, Bertagna said.
In investigating the man's allegations, detectives came across the other alleged victims, all listed as Jane Does in the criminal complaint. Detectives reopened a child annoyance case out of Costa Mesa in 2002 and another case out of Santa Ana in 2012 that were closed when authorities lacked enough evidence for charges, Bertagna said.
Anyone who may have information helpful to authorities was asked to call Detective Jessica Guidry at (714) 245-8530. Orange County Crime Stoppers will accept anonymous tips at (855) TIP-OCCS.