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Watsonville
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July 2, 2022

Watsonville city employee arrested for sexual assault

WATSONVILLE—Watsonville police on Tuesday arrested a 23-year-old man for allegedly sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

Matthew Jimenez was charged with sodomy on a minor and oral copulation on a person under 16, both felonies. He was also charged with annoying or molesting a child, a misdemeanor. 

He was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail, court records showed.

Matthew Jimenez

Jimenez was an employee with the Parks and Community Services Department. He worked at the Gene Hoularis and Waldo Rodriguez Youth Center, where he had regular contact with minors, said director Nick Calubaquib. 

He was hired in 2015 and worked as recreation director at the youth center, and was later promoted to recreation specialist, helping oversee other employees and leading activities for young people, Calubaquib said. He also worked with the city’s special events unit, where he helped plan events such as the Strawberry Festival and the Fourth of July parade.

He underwent a criminal background check before he was hired, Calubaquib said.

Calubaquib described Jimenez as a “great employee.”

“Great to be around, super positive and well-liked by his coworkers,” he said.“We’re definitely shocked and heartbroken and at a real loss for words. The safety and well-being of the youth in our community is at the forefront of what we do.”

City officials did not say whether Jimenez has been fired. He is not on any work schedules, however.

According to Watsonville Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Pulido, investigators received a tip last week that accused Jimenez of a sexual assault that had occurred more than a year ago.

Detectives investigated the allegations and tracked down the victim, now 16, who confirmed and detailed the allegations. 

Detectives say there were at least five assaults, which occurred in 2018 and 2019. They did not occur on any city facilities.

The victim and the suspect met through a mutual friend, Pulido said.

It is not clear if there are additional victims, she said. 

“We are asking parents or any resident to please contact us if they have any information regarding the suspect,” she said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Rudy Lopez at 768-3357.

Pulido did not comment on how the tip came to the police department, or who provided it. But she said it was essential in the case.

“Anything you may find suspicious, please report it to police,” she said. “Because of that we were able to arrest the suspect.”

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