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A man who fled to Guatemala after allegedly impregnating his 12-year-old daughter in 2007 pleaded not guilty in San Mateo County Superior Court on Thursday to child molestation charges, according to prosecutors. Manuel Jacinto, 39, came to the attention of authorities in December 2007 when he brought his 12-year-old daughter to San Mateo Medical Center for an abortion,
according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Jacinto and the girl told authorities the baby’s father was a 12-year-old boy and that the sex had been consensual. However, after police asked Jacinto to provide a DNA sample for testing, he fled to Guatemala.
After he left the country, the victim told police that the baby was her father’s, and that she had lied to protect him and avoid upsetting her mother, Wagstaffe said. Redwood City police pursued the case and worked with federal and Guatemalan authorities to return Jacinto to the United States for prosecution. Jacinto, who is represented by Alex Bernstein, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to three counts of lewd acts with a child under 14, three counts of incest and destroying evidence. Jacinto was ordered to return to court on Jan. 16 to set a date for a preliminary hearing. He remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail.
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