A man accused of child sexual abuse pleaded not guilty after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing in 1st District Court.
Justin Earl Cisneros, 41, appeared in court via video conference from the Cache County Jail on Monday. Defense attorney Rudy Bautista told the court Cisneros wished to waive the hearing and move toward a jury trial.
Bautista said Cisneros understood his rights and emphasized the waiver was not an admission of guilt.
Judge Brandon Maynard has said in multiple hearings he will not set jury trials due to restrictions on Utah courts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cisneros was set to appear for a status conference on Jan. 25.
Cisneros has been charged with two counts of first-degree sodomy on a child, one count of rape of a child and one count of second-degree sexual abuse of child.
According to documents filed with the court, the alleged incidents happened between 2013 and 2015 while Cisneros was living in Cache Valley. The alleged victim, who was 3 years old at the time, disclosed to family members she had been abused by Cisneros.
In a recorded phone call, police wrote, Cisneros made multiple “soft denials” and said he would never have done anything to hurt the victim. Police wrote Cisneros claimed he was “fighting his evils” and drinking alcohol during the period of alleged abuse. Cisneros said, according to police, it was possible something happened by accident or the incidents were blocked from memory.
Cisneros was booked into the Cache County Jail on Aug. 5, nearly four months after charges were filed.
In August, Cache County prosecutors told the court Cisneros had fought extradition from Colorado and a governor’s warrant had to be obtained to bring him to Cache County.
Cisneros is currently being held in jail on a no-bail status.