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Man sentenced to prison for 2018 sexual assaults in Santa Maria

James Francisco Fuentes, 44, of Santa Maria
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office
James Francisco Fuentes, 44, of Santa Maria

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A man convicted of forcing two different women to perform oral sex on him in separate attacks in 2018 has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Monday that 44-year-old James Fuentes was sentenced to state prison after pleading guilty to forced oral copulation on two different women. Fuentes also admitted to having two prior "strike convictions."

Fuentes was arrested in May 2018, after he attacked a woman in an office building. Fuentes attacked the woman and forced her to perform oral sex on him. He also attempted to rape her, Dudley's office said.

Police searched the area but were unable to find the suspect. Fuentes was arrested several hours later and charged in the assault. After his arrest, additional information came to light about previous assaults he had committed.

Prior to the attack in the office building, Fuentes broke into a woman's home and forced the woman living there to perform sexual acts on him.

After his arrest for the office building attack, Fuentes was linked to the previous assault at the woman's home through DNA evidence.

In a news release issued Monday, Dudley praised the Santa Maria Police Department and the Department of Justice Criminal Lab for their work in investigating the crimes.

Dudley also offered thanks to the women who reported the crimes that led to Fuentes' arrest.

“In reporting these horrific crimes, these courageous victims ensured that this sexual predator can never assault another woman again,” Dudley said.

Fuentes will now head to state prison to serve his sentence. Additionally, if he is ever released, he will be required to register as a sex offender for life.

Article Topic Follows: Crime & Courts

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