A Sheriff's Department investigation and sting operation led to the arrest of a 34-year-old man who allegedly sexually groped several girls since Jan. 31.
Richard Garcia of Modesto was booked into the County Jail for sexual battery Thursday morning after detectives and STING deputies set up an undercover operation using a female deputy as a student. At approximately 7:20 a.m. she was walking westbound on Butte Avenue headed to the Glenn Avenue bus stop when Garcia rode up next to her on a bike and grabbed her buttocks. He began to ride away but she grabbed him to take him into custody. She was assisted by STING deputies who swooped in.
Garcia is the man believed to have groped a 15-year-old girl as she was walking to a school bus stop on Crowslanding Road and Butte Avenue between6:40 a.m. and 7:20 a.m. on Jan. 31. Like with the deputy, the suspect was on a bicycle when he grabbed her buttocks and rode off. The victim gave a general description of the suspect and also took a cell phone picture of him as he rode away but he shielded his face.
During the initial investigation deputies learned there were other victims so they created a bulletin with the photograph of the suspect and shared it with local law enforcement agencies. Deputies and detectives in unmarked police cars began to search for the suspect and also working with probation officers to identify the man.
Detectives learned there were seven victims, ranging in age from 14 to 16, who had been groped by the suspect as they walked to school during the morning. The crimes concentrated in the areas of Glenn Avenue and Dallas Street, as well as Seattle Street and Butte Avenue.
Detectives will conduct follow-up investigation with the victims for possible identification of the suspect. Detectives are asking any victims to contact Detective Esquivez at 525-7050.