Updated 12/16/11 at 4 p.m.
A 21-year-old college student accused of groping girls and women in three North County cities pleaded not guilty today to 19 criminal counts, including felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor sexual battery.
Zachary Alcantara, of Oceanside, was ordered held on $1 million bail. He was arrested Wednesday as he was leaving a class at Mira Costa College. Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior told Vista Judge Martin Staven that Alcantara initially exposed himself in a Target store, then started following women and girls and groping them in the buttocks. The defendant is accused of groping five girls and five women over a three-month period, the prosecutor said. Alcantara allegedly pinned the arm of one victim while groping her and tugged on the pants of another, making them feel like they couldn't get away, Prior said.
Three girls were molested outside San Dieguito Academy, the prosecutor said. At the time of his arrest this week, Alcantara was out on bail for allegedly committing similar crimes, Prior said. Police said seven of the alleged crimes occurred Tuesday -- three each in Oceanside and Encinitas and one in Carlsbad. The other occurred in Oceanside last Saturday. Prior said many of the victims have identified Alcantara as their attacker.
He faces 10 years in prison if convicted. Staven set a readiness conference for Jan. 6 and a preliminary hearing for Jan. 26.
— City News Service