Arrest made after reports of sexual assault at College of the Desert


A Palm Desert man suspected of sexually assaulting two women at College of the Desert is scheduled to be in court tomorrow.

Jesse Timothy Lara, 28, was arrested near the Palm Desert campus Sept. 17 and pleaded not guilty Sept. 19 to two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery, according to court and jail records. He has a pre-trial hearing Friday morning at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.

Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Julio Oseguera said authorities went to COD on Sept. 17 to speak with the two alleged victims. One was allegedly assaulted by Lara on Sept. 16 and one on Sept. 12, he said.

In both cases, they were approached by Lara, then a sexual battery occurred, according to Oseguera, who said he didn't know the exact nature of the alleged assaults.

It was unclear if Lara and the women were students.

Oseguera said any other possible victims should call the sheriff's department at (760) 836-1600 or Coachella Valley Crime Stoppers at (760) 341-7867.

Lara was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail at the county jail in Blythe, according to jail records.

Yesterday, College of the Desert sent out this email to all students, reporting the assaults:

"Last week, there were two assaults on campus. These assaults involved unwanted touching and were reported to the Campus Security Department.  The two victims were interviewed by Security staff and, from the information received, led our officers to believe that there was only one suspect. Further investigation revealed the possible suspect was also a student. The suspect was found on campus and was detained. The suspect was interviewed by Riverside County Sheriff's deputies and Security staff. The suspect was arrested and transported to the Sheriff's office and is still in custody. The college is now moving forward to have the student expelled from College of the Desert."

Lara is currently in protective custody in Blythe.  

If there are any other victims or people with additional information, contact the Palm Desert Police Department at 760-836-1600.

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