NewsLocal News


Goleta man facing sexual assault charges 30 years later out of Arroyo Grande

Daniel Berenguer.jpg
Posted at 5:36 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 22:44:56-04

A Goleta man is in jail on suspicion of child molestation in Arroyo Grande.

For the past eight months, Arroyo Grande police have been investigating allegations of the sexual abuse of a child dating back to the 1990s.

On Thursday, Daniel Berenguer, 61, of Goleta was arrested after search and arrest warrants were served at his Goleta home.

He’s facing charges of lewd acts with a child under 14, forced oral copulation with a child under 14, and continuous sexual abuse of a child.

“The victims will get some sense of closure and we're really trying to see if there are more victims that are out there,” said Detective Sergeant Michael Smiley, who is heading up the case.

“The suspect had victimized people back in the late 70s and in the early 90s and so there's a long history there of time where they could have victimized other people,” Det. Sgt. Smiley explained.

Berenguer is a local to the Goleta and Santa Barbara areas where he coached girls’ basketball in the early 1990s.

Police say three alleged victims have come forward with the statue of limitations expiring for one of them.

The statute of limitations in sexual assault cases whether the victims are adults or children is complex.

“At a minimum, it's usually within 10 years or before the victim's 40th birthday, but there's been several law changes since the 80s and 90s that extended those statue of limitations,” Det. Sgt. Smiley said.

He adds that the circumstances of the case and the timing play a role in the statute of limitations as well.

Meanwhile, it’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month and nonprofit RISE wants survivors to know they’re not alone.

“We're here for them every step of the way. Some people were assaulted as children and now as adults they're just now seeking help, so we're here for them,” said Jane Pomeroy, RISE executive director. “Some people were assaulted yesterday and they call our line and we're here for them as well.”

RISE also offers free resources including supporting victims through the police reporting process.

“We can go into the station and report it in person with them but we are 100% here for the survivors, so we're not going to pressure them one way or another,” Pomeroy said. “We're just here to support them in their decision-making process. “

Berenguer’s case has been turned over to the District Attorney’s office for review.

His bail is set at $200,000.

For more information on the resources available and upcoming events hosted by RISE, click here.