An East Palo Alto man facing sexual battery charges pleaded not guilty on Thursday, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.
Bernardino Rosas Valle, 66, is accused of sexually abusing women at his unregulated massage-therapy business in a shed in his backyard. He was providing low-cost massage and chiropractic services to women out of his property on the 2200 block of Brentwood Court, police said. He claimed to have been a self-proclaimed "sobandero," or masseur for the past 30 years.
He was originally arrested for sexual battery on Sept. 3 after he allegedly fondled a victim during a massage. She stopped him, left and told her daughter, who convinced her to call police, according to the DA's office. He was not prosecuted due to lack of evidence.
But 21 victims came forward after police issued a media release, and the story was publicized through Spanish-speaking television and newspapers.
Ten of the women were assaulted within the statute of limitations, and Valle was re-arrested on Dec. 31, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
Valle is charged with three counts of forcible sexual penetration with an object, a felony; nine counts of felony sexual battery, four counts of misdemeanor sexual battery and one count of felony false imprisonment.
Many of the women are East Palo Alto residents. Most are undocumented immigrants who were fearful of going to the police department, and many did not realize the inappropriate touching is a criminal offense, Wagstaffe said.
Valle remains in custody on $300,000 bail. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 27.