Jury Selection Begins For Trial of Man Accused in Palm Desert Molestation

Ceci Partridge & City News Service

Jury selection got underway Monday for the trial of a Cathedral City man accused of molesting a girl at a Palm Desert resort.

Ismael Gaspar, 38, was arrested March 26, 2018, on suspicion of sex crimes he allegedly committed six days earlier at the Marriott Shadow Ridge Resort.

Gaspar, who remains free on $55,000 bail, is charged with one count each of burglary and committing lewd acts with a child under 14 years old, and two counts each of oral copulation of a minor under 14 years old and providing a minor with a controlled substance.

Gaspar faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in state prison if convicted as charged, according to prosecutors.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Albert J. Wojcik summoned multiple panels of prospective jurors for screening at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. It’s unclear how many days the vetting process may take because of new public health protocols that limit courtroom capacity.

Gaspar allegedly molested the girl on March 20, 2018, at the resort located at 9003 Shadow Ridge Road. Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. David Wright said the defendant allegedly entered the resort illegally to commit the sex acts, which accounted for the burglary charge.

The relationship between the victim and defendant, if any, was unclear, as were the circumstances surrounding the alleged assault.

The defendant has no prior felony convictions in Riverside County.

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