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Half Moon Bay: 70-year-old man pleads not guilty to molestation charge

Half Moon Bay: 70-year-old man pleads not guilty to molestation charge

HALF MOON BAY — A Half Moon Bay man pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to charges that he molested a female relative in the early 1990s, when she was between the ages 6 and 9, according to prosecutors.

Manuel Cortes, 70, was arrested June 6 following a one-year investigation into allegations made by the relative. The now 37-year-old woman told the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office that Cortes molested and raped her as a child.

San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said the crime took place between Jan. 1, 1991 and Feb. 6, 1995; the victim couldn’t remember the exact date of the alleged assault, Wagstaffe said.

The victim said she didn’t report the allegation sooner because she feared no one would believe her, and that would be cut off from other relatives. Prosecutors said Cortes admitted to the molestation in a phone call with the victim that was monitored by detectives.

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Cortes pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of a lewd act against a child Thursday morning in a superior court arraignment hearing in Redwood City. The next hearing, a pretrial conference, was set for Sept. 25. He remains in custody on no-bail status.

Cortes’s defense attorney, Mikonos Vasquez, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.