One of Two Men Charged in Teen's Rape Pleads Not Guilty

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 DOWNEY (CNS) - One of two men suspected in the sexual assault of a 14- year-old girl in Bell Gardens pleaded not guilty today to rape and other charges.

 Robert Nunez, 41, is charged with one felony count each of forcible rape of a child victim over 14 years, forcible oral copulation of a minor victim over 14 years and false imprisonment by violence.

Co-defendant Jaomir Perez, also 41, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the same charges.

The alleged sexual assault occurred early last Thursday morning at an undisclosed location, according to Lt. Dano Neslen of the Bell Gardens Police Department, who described the crime as ``horrific.'

The girl told police she was coerced into a garage by a suspect later identified as Nunez, a Bell Gardens-area transient, according to a police statement.

Nunez and a second suspect tied her up, then Nunez raped the girl at knifepoint, Neslen said.

Police circulated Nunez's photo and sought the public's help to find him, and Nunez was arrested near a homeless encampment in Long Beach on Monday morning, according to Fox11 and police.

``At 8:15 (a.m.), Long Beach P.D. was notified by an anonymous citizen that had seen our previous press release and suspect photo (who) ...reported a sighting of accused rapist Robert Nunez in the LA River area near Long Beach Boulevard and the 710 Freeway,'' Neslen said in a statement.

``Long Beach police officers immediately responded to the location where they located Nunez, who attempted to flee on foot,'' Neslen said. ``However, officers were able to quickly take him into custody.'' Nunez ``had his distinctive facial tattoo covered by a bandage in an attempt to conceal his identity,'' according to Neslen.

Last Thursday afternoon, officers and investigators had tracked down and arrested the second suspect, who was identified as Perez.

Both men remain behind bars, jail records show. They are set to appear in a Norwalk courtroom next month, when a dateis scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to allow the case against them to proceed to trial.

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