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Suspect in Donnelly Park attack charged with two more sexual assaults
Jason Lara
Jason Lara

A Turlock man already awaiting trial on allegations he sexually assaulted a woman in Donnelly Park, was re-arrested Wednesday on new claims that he sexually assaulted two other women in Turlock. Investigators also believe there could be additional victims yet to come forward.

Jason Daniel Lara, 19, was already in custody for charges of kidnapping for the purpose of rape and assault with intent to commit rape for an attack on a female jogger at Donnelly Park on July 5, 2013. On Wednesday, Turlock Police Detective Frank Navarro arrested Lara on allegations he committed two other sexual assaults in December 2012.

Lara was 17 years old when he was arrested for the Donnelly Park incident, but given the seriousness of the charges against him, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office decided to put him on trial as an adult.

The new allegations against Lara claim he sexually assaulted two women two days apart in December, when he was 17-years old.

The first new allegation names Lara as the attacker of a 36-year-old woman, who said she was assaulted on Dec. 18, 2012. The woman was working as an after-hours custodian and was at the Westamerica Bank at 2891 Geer Rd. The woman told investigators she was near the Dumpster when the suspect came up behind her and pushed her to the ground. The woman fought with her attacker and the suspect fled the area.

Two days later, on Dec. 20, 2012, a 59-year-old woman walking in the 1900 block of Asbury was attacked. She told investigators the attacker grabbed her from behind and put a hand over her mouth. She reported the attacker raped her, said Turlock Police spokesperson Officer Mayra Lewis.

The third assault linked to Lara happened on July 5, 2013. The 43-year-old woman was out for a jog around Donnelly Park when she was attacked from behind. During a previously held preliminary hearing for Lara, the woman said the assailant grabbed her and started dragging her off the path. She stated she was carried several feet to an isolated area of the park before the suspect threw her down and climbed on top of her.

The woman said she continued to fight against the attacker and that she was able to free herself from his grasp while he was trying to kiss her on the mouth. The woman ran for help as the suspect fled the park.

The woman gave a detailed description of the attacker to Turlock Police officers and a search of the area was conducted, but no suspect was found. A few hours later an officer on patrol spotted Lara and saw that he resembled the description the woman had provided. Lara was taken into custody and was positively identified by the woman as her attacker.

In the preliminary hearing, Lara’s defense attorney argued it was a case of mistaken identity.

After his arrest and through the course of the investigation into the other two attacks, Lara was identified as a potential suspect.

Because he was 17 at the time of his arrest, Lara was kept in custody at the Stanislaus County Juvenile Hall, until he was recently transferred to the Stanislaus County Jail. Lara’s defense had been pushing for an earlier trial date for the July 2013 incident, in the hopes it could be held before he was transferred out of juvenile hall. A jury trial date for the July incident is set for June 2, but is likely to change given the new charges against Lara. He is scheduled for a court hearing Feb. 2 in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

Lara is now facing charges of kidnapping for the purpose of rape, assault with intent to commit rape and sodomy and rape. He has been held in custody since his arrest in July 2013.

Detectives are seeking anyone who may have witnessed or has additional information regarding the three sexual assault cases. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Frank Navarro at 664-7319.

The Turlock Police Department is an active participant in the Crime Stoppers Program. Callers can leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 521-4636 and may be eligible for a cash reward.