INDIO ( — An Indio police officer faced a judge Friday on charges of sexually assaulting his young cousin, who was staying at his Palm Desert home.

Sergio Ramirez, 34, pleaded not guilty to charges of rape by force or fear, oral copulation by force or violence and forcible sexual penetration.

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Ramirez was arrested Aug. 31 in Indio, but was released the following day on $85,000 bail.

According to a Riverside County sheriff’s investigator’s declaration in support of an arrest warrant, the 18-year-old woman identified as “V-1” began staying at Ramirez’s house in June and had planned to remain there until Aug. 8, when she planned to move away for college.

On Aug. 6, she said Ramirez came into her room in the early morning hours while she was asleep and lay down beside her. Feeling uncomfortable, she moved to another room and fell asleep on a couch, but woke again to Ramirez sexually assaulting her, according to the declaration.

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She told investigators “she could not believe he was doing this because he has been such a positive role model for her and he is a police officer. She viewed him as a father figure,” the declaration said.

After the assault, the investigator said she fled to a friend’s home down the street and then went to Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, where she underwent a sexual assault examination.

Sheriff’s deputies say Ramirez’s wife texted the girl and asked her to lie to police and not undergo the sexual assault examination at the hospital. Ramirez’s wife also washed the clothes that the victim was wearing during the alleged sexual assault, according to the declaration.

A second sheriff’s investigator declaration for an arrest warrant states”family members have already attempted to dissuade the victim from moving forward with the case” and expressed concern for the victim’s safety, as Ramirez knew where she lived and deputies were unable to locate one of Ramirez’s firearms.

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