SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Police in Santa Ana have arrested a man they say molested some children for decades.
Javier Ortiz Pichardo was arrested for child molestation Thursday and authorities believe there may be additional victims.
Detectives said Pichardo molested family members, as well.
They said Pichardo began molesting children in 1999 when he was a cook at the New China restaurant in Santa Ana. The restaurant closed in 2004. Pichardo’s first victim, aged 7, was the child of regular customers of the restaurant.
Officials said Pichardo molested the victim in the restaurant bathroom. He then befriended the family and gave them free food, which gained the victim’s family’s trust. Detectives said he eventually was allowed to pick the victim up from school. Pichardo repeatedly abused the victim for seven years. The abuse stopped when the victim was 14 and the victim’s family lost contact with Pichardo.
The victim, now 26, was at a McDonald’s, when Pichardo walked into the restaurant. The victim immediately recalled the years of abuse and followed the suspect to the parking lot, obtained his license plate number and called police.
Detectives launched an investigation and discovered that Pichardo was identified as a suspect in a child annoyance investigation by the Costa Mesa Police Department in 2002. Pichardo was also accused of child molestation in 2012 in Santa Ana. Officials said neither case could be proven, so Pichardo was never arrested in these cases.
Authorities said their investigation revealed that Pichardo was also molesting a family member for almost 10 years.
Pichardo allegedly confessed to molesting both the family member and the 26-year-old victim.
Detectives are looking into the cases from Costa Mesa in 2002 and Santa Ana in 2012. Pichardo could face additional charges.
Pichardo was booked at the Orange County Jail on multiple child abuse charges and his bail has been set at $1,000,000.
Santa Ana Police Department Detectives believe there may be additional victims and ask anyone with information to contact Detective Jessica Guidry at (714) 245-8530, firstname.lastname@example.org or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.