San Mateo County prosecutors have added five new felonies to the growing list of sexual abuse charges against an East Palo Alto masseur.
Bernardino Roses Valle, 66, already faced 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 for crimes he allegedly committed at his unregulated massage-therapy business.
The new charges, five counts of sexual penetration by force, have been added for his alleged abuse of another victim, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's office. Since East Palo Alto police issued a media release and a story has appears on Spanish-speaking television and in newspapers, 21 other victims have come forward. Ten were assaulted within the statute of limitations, according to the DA.
Valle allegedly targeted mainly Spanish-speaking women who came to his home 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 had been assisting clients with issues ranging from minor aches and pains to fertility enhancement, provided massages in his backyard shed, police said.
Valle was arrested for sexual battery on Sept. 3 after he allegedly fondled a victim's breasts and tried to reach into her genital area during a massage. She stopped him, left, and told her daughter, who convinced her to call police, according to the DA's office. Valle was not prosecuted due to lack of evidence. "He-said, she-said" cases are hard to prosecute, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in January.
But Valle was re-arrested on Dec. 31, 2014, after the 21 victims came forward. The alleged assaults took place between 2006 and 2014.
Prosecutors added the additional counts on Friday, Feb. 27, when Valle appeared for a preliminary hearing. He had pleaded not guilty in January. He pleaded not guilty to the additional charges on Friday. Judge Richard DuBois increased his bail from $300,000 to $500,000. Valle remains in custody. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 1.