A previously deported illegal immigrant who sexually assaulted a young girl in a bathroom stall at the Riverside restaurant where he worked as a cook will be spending the next 15 years to life in state prison.
Avimael Lopez, 35, last month admitted one count of forced oral copulation of a child under 10 years old. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a related charge of lewd acts on a minor. Under the sentence handed down late last week, he will be be eligible for parole in 2032.
Lopez was arrested on June 6, 2016, after he was caught in the act of molesting the victim, identified in court documents only as Jane Doe.
According to Riverside police, the girl was with her mother at Punjab Palace in the 1700 block of University Avenue, just off of Chicago Avenue, and went into the women's restroom alone in the early afternoon. Lopez followed the child into a stall and sexually assaulted her, according to police and prosecutors.
When the girl failed to emerge after a few minutes, her mother went to check on her and encountered Lopez committing the assault, prompting the woman to call 911, according to investigators.
According to U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Lopez is a Mexican national who was deported back to his homeland in 2010. It's unclear when he re-entered the U.S. illegally. ICE has an active detainer on the defendant, who will be taken into federal custody and subject to deportation proceedings after he completes his prison term.