A children's clown performer from Huntington Beach pleaded not guilty Friday to sexually abusing two girls.
Gualberto Torres-Vargas, 37, entered the plea in an Orange County courtroom, where he was arraigned on charges including sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child 10 years old or younger, oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 years old or younger. If convicted, he would face 175 years to life behind bars.
Prosecutors say the alleged assaults on the girls, ages 9 and 5, went on for nearly a year.
Authorities say they initially didn't know Torres-Vargas spent his weekends working as a clown at children's parties until after he'd been arrested near his Huntington Beach home.
Police say it was the mother of one of the victims who saw him get picked up by his employer - a man who lives in Long Beach. He was then driven to his job wearing a clown outfit.
Police say when they searched his home they found clothing consistent with what a clown would wear. They describe it as identifiable.
In the first case, Torres-Vargas is accused of sexually assaulting the 9 year old. The other victim was allegedly assaulted and molested.
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Torres-Vargas has been working as a clown for years. He did not meet his two victims while working as a clown, officials said.
"We know that he's had contact with children and we are hoping that if there are any possible additional victims we'd like to know, we'd like to have them come forward," said Roxi Fyad of the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
Huntington Beach police and district attorney investigators are asking potential additional victims or anyone with more information to come forward.