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Man arrested for allegedly molesting child at Watsonville daycare

Watsonville man arrested for alleged child molestation

WATSONVILLE, Calif. - Following a two month investigation, a Watsonville man was taken into custody for allegedly molesting a child at a daycare facility, on the 700 block of Hill Avenue. 

Watsonville Police said the molestation occurred four years ago when the victim was 6-years-old.

During a forensic interview, the victim told investigators that one of the daycare providers improperly touched them. 

WPD identified the suspect as 50-year-old Arturo Garcia-Gahona. 

"Detectives immediately notified the California Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Division (CDSS/CCLD) which oversees all licensed daycare facilities within the state," said Sgt. Mish Radich. 

On June 12, Detectives gathered enough evidence and arrested Gahona, after bringing him to the police station. He was booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail for lewd and lascivious acts with a child. Garcia-Gahona's bail was set to $250,000. 

When KION asked police why the amount increased, they said it is because of possible continued interaction with children.

"The day care was still being operated and we believe he could still have access to children," Radich said. "We believe he was around other children during the four year period."

Police say the six-year-old might not be the only victim.

 "Over the course of our investigation, we believe there is at least one additional victim," Radich told reporters, Tuesday. 

The Hill Avenue Day Care is no longer open, but police say the owner now runs the day care under a different license, at a different location in Watsonville. 

The California Social Services department tells KION the owner is Maria Peredia. We found a Peredia Day Care on Jefferson Street, and it's Facebook page lists her as the licensed operator. 

When we called, we received an automated message:  "The number you dialed has been changed, disconnected, or is no longer in service."

We do not know if and when Peredia knew of the allegations against Garcia-Gahona. 

Police say Garcia-Gahona's charge could carry a penalty of life in prison. He was booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail and will be back in court in July. 
 

 

 


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