SANTA BARBARA COUNTY – On February 1, 2020, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office announced that James Fuentes, 44, was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison after pleading to one count of forced oral copulation, a violent felony offense, involving two different victims and admitting to two prior strike convictions. He will also be required to register as a sex offender under for life.
The two sexual assaults occurred in the spring of 2018 in the City of Santa Maria. In one assault, Fuentes entered the home of the victim and forced her to perform sexual acts on him. In a later assault, Fuentes, in early morning hours, entered the business office of another victim and forced her to perform sexual acts on him after attempting to rape her.
Santa Maria Police Department detectives were able to quickly identify Fuentes as a suspect after the second sexual assault and tie Fuentes to both crimes through DNA analysis and other evidence collected. District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley commended the Santa Maria Police Department, the Department of Justice Criminal Lab in Goleta and Supervising Deputy District Attorney Scott Donahue for their work in investigating, analyzing evidence and assisting in the prosecution.
“California Department of Justice criminalists assist numerous counties in this state with the collection and analysis of evidence, as well as testify in court,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “They are a valuable resource of investigators and prosecutors. Simply stated, many crimes would go unsolved and cases unsuccessfully prosecuted if not for their work and their knowledge of ever advancing science.”
District Attorney Dudley also added, “In reporting these horrific crimes, these courageous victims ensured that this sexual predator can never assault another woman again.”