INDIO Calif. - A March 1st trial date was set today for a Palm Springs man accused of sexually abusing two 8-year-old girls who went to his wife's daycare center.
Jose Manuel Mercado, 39, is charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a minor and one count of lewd acts with a child under 14.
He remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail.
According to prosecutors, the alleged crimes occurred between December 2003 and December 2004 with one alleged victims. The other girl was allegedly molested in September 2010.
One of the alleged victims testified at a preliminary hearing in August2011 that Mercado rubbed her pubic area in September 2010 when he drove her to a party, then told her not to tell anyone about it when they arrived.
"My mom said he was on TV and told me he was in jail and asked did he ever do something to me?" she testified.
Deputy District Attorney Joshua Hill said Palm Springs police, who had been investigating Mercado, had put out a bulletin seeking other alleged victims because Mercado's wife ran a daycare at their apartment on Tahquitz Canyon Way.
Mercado was arrested in October 2010 after the second alleged victim came forward. Both girls had gone to the daycare facility and both were about 8 years old at the time of the alleged abuses, Hill said.
Hill said the three aggravated sexual assault charges involve the girl in 2003-04, and the lewd act charge involves the girl from 2010.
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