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December 12, 2019
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Sex crimes suspect pleads not guilty

SANTA CRUZ — The Watsonville man who allegedly filmed himself sexually assaulting two children made his first court appearance Thursday morning, where he pleaded not guilty to multiple felony sex crimes.

Travis Hernandez, 24, also denied special allegations that he had more than one victim. He is facing 45 years to life in prison if convicted on all charges.

In all, Hernandez faces seven counts of forcible child molestation, Santa Cruz County Assistant District Attorney Steve Moore said.

The case involves a 13-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy, court records show.

Watsonville Police detectives arrested Hernandez at his apartment on Blackburn Street and booked him into Santa Cruz County Jail Monday night.

Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Timothy Volkmann set Hernandez bail at $350,000. But he is being held without bail because he violated his probation in a separate felony case from February 2018.

In that case, Hernandez was accused of numerous felony and misdemeanor charges including making terroristic threats, auto theft, elder abuse, battery, false imprisonment and resisting arrest. He served 43 days in jail for those charges and received three years of probation.

Hernandez also pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vandalism in 2014. He was also convicted of elder abuse, assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, destroying a wireless device and dissuading a witness in 2015. He also has convictions in 2013 for being a minor in possession of drugs and petty theft.

The most recent case was forwarded to WPD after the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) received a cyber tip of suspicious activity on Hernandez’ Google account from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. 

WPD detectives then worked with members of the ICAC Task Force and found that Hernandez had produced child pornography while sexually assaulting at least two children on separate occasions. 

Detectives say Hernandez admitted to sexually assaulting both children shown in the videos. Both victims have been identified. 

Police do not know if there are additional victims. Anyone with information on this case should call Detective Rudy Lopez at 768-3357 or Detective Nelson Hernandez at 768-3358. 

WPD is a member of the Silicon Valley ICAC Task Force, which is managed by the San José Police Department.

For information and resources for parents and youth, visit SVICAC.org.

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