EDINBURG — A Mission man who is accused of sexually assaulting a minor at a bar his mother owns formally pleaded not guilty to assault charges.
During an arraignment hearing Thursday morning, standing alongside his attorney, Robert M. Capello, Genaro Fuentes waived the reading of the two-count indictment against him and pleaded not true to aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault of a child.
Charges stem from a human trafficking investigation initiated by Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission into a rural bar in Mission called Rita Sports Bar, owned and operated by Rita Martinez Moreno, 61.
Like his mother, Fuentes, 36, is accused of sexually assaulting a minor, Kenia Garcia, a pseudonym used in the indictment for the victim — once in November 1999 and again in December of the same year.
The state, represented by Assistant District Attorney and Chief of the Special Victims Division Hope Palacios, requested a $400,000 bond for Fuentes, citing his prior criminal history, significant ties to Mexico, and involvement in the abuse of minors who were being held at the bar.
She asked the court order Fuentes to adhere to certain restrictions, including avoiding contact with the victim, anyone under 17 years of age, and any co-defendants.
“…These allegations stem from a human trafficking investigation; the alleged victim in this case was one of the minors being held at a bar in which the defendant’s mother owns and (Fuentes) did work for,” Palacios said during the hearing. “We have significant concerns about the safety of the victim in this case, she’s already in protective custody.”
Ultimately, state District Judge Mario E. Ramirez, set Fuentes’ bond at $350,000 — $250,000 on count 1 aggravated sexual assault, and $100,000 on count 2, sexual assault of a child.
Ramirez advised Capello he may request a hearing to argue a reduction of the $350,000 bond.
Martinez is currently detained on no bond at the Hidalgo County jail, facing a 31-count indictment in connection with TABC’s investigation.
Martinez is accused of sexual assault of a child, and aggravated sexual assault, against Kenia Garcia in the following instances: December 2000, January 2001, June 2001, December 2001, January 2002, June 2002, December 2002 and June 2003.
Thus far the investigation has netted authorities four suspects, including a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper, Juan Angel Barrientos, and Mission man Mariano Israel Vera Vega.
Barrientos, 48, of Edinburg, is currently free on a $60,000 personal recognizance bond, jail records show. DPS did not indicate whether Barrientos was on paid or unpaid suspension.
Martinez and Barrientos are scheduled for their respective formal arraignments Aug. 28, before state District Judge Israel Ramon, court records show.
Vera, 53, has been in custody since February of this year, when he was arrested on a warrant related to a sexual assault charge. He was denied bond and remains in a Hidalgo County jail.
Vera is scheduled to be formally arraigned Aug. 15, before state District Judge Noe Gonzalez, court records show.