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By Alex Horvath / The Californian
By The Bakersfield Californian
A Kern County sheriff's deputy accused of inappropriately touching two women under the pretext of searching them was back in court Monday.
Gabriel Lopez, who appeared in a dark suit alongside his attorney, Susan Jerich, is facing several charges, including assault by a public officer, sexual battery, false imprisonment and touching a person intimately against their will. At Monday's hearing, Lopez agreed that the court could schedule his status conference Oct. 15.
The deputy, who was 26 at the time of his arrest, pleaded not guilty April 22 to all counts. He is free after posting 10 percent of $60,000 bail.
Lopez was on patrol for little more than two weeks before the first accusation against him came to light. A woman reported to deputies that on March 25 Lopez and another deputy arrived at her Tehachapi residence to conduct a burglary investigation.
The woman was handcuffed by Lopez and led into another room to search her for weapons, but he inappropriately touched her, including under her clothing, deputies said. The woman said Lopez returned to the residence later that evening, after the other deputy had left, and again touched her inappropriately after having her remove her clothing.
Another woman came forward and told deputies that Lopez inappropriately touched her March 26 after telling her he needed to search her for weapons and drugs, deputies said. Lopez was investigating a peace disturbance inside the 18-year-old's home.
Lopez was arrested April 8 after detectives with the Kern County Sheriff's Office Sexual Assault and Abuse Investigation Unit conducted an investigation. Lopez was hired Sept. 24, 2011 and completed field training March 8.
Lopez is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the case.