BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A convicted sex offender accused of luring a 5-year-old girl away from her family’s campsite last month had inappropriate photos of the child on his cellphone, according to sheriff’s office reports.
The photos viewed on the cellphone of 62-year-old David Barrera showed the girl and another child wearing bathing suits in poses an investigator described as sexually suggestive, say reports filed in Superior Court.
One of the children told investigators Barrera said the photos were for his “memories.”
Questioned by deputies, Barrera denied coaxing the child to follow him. He said he told her to go back to her family, the reports say.
He argued the photos were not sexually suggestive.
“I just wanted memories of my vacation and the people I meet,” he said according to the documents.
Barrera was arrested and has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping a child under 14, annoying or molesting a child under 18 with a prior offense and two counts of contacting a minor with the intent to commit a sexual offense. He has a hearing set for Tuesday.
The child’s family reported her missing shortly after 5 p.m. June 1 from their campsite at the Keysville South Campground near Lake Isabella. They yelled her name and began a frantic search lasting several minutes before she was found with Barrera, the documents say.
When deputies arrived, Barrera told them the situation had been blown out of proportion and he had done nothing wrong.
“She just followed me,” he told investigators. “I was like, ‘No your mom and dads (sic) gonna be looking for you.'”
Barrera admitted to being registered sex offender, the reports say. He said he didn’t want to talk about it because it happened 30 years ago and was “irrelevant.”
He acknowledged hearing the child’s family call for her and not responding, according to the documents. Deputies noted the location where he was found with the child was near the water and hidden from view from the surrounding area.
“I mean, OK, so I’m caught in the little area with the child,” Barrera told investigators. “I understand that part, nothing happened. And she’ll probably testify to that. So I don’t understand what I did wrong.”
The girl’s parents told investigators Barrera approached them at their campsite that morning and hung out with them. They drank a few beers and he went back to where he was camping.
Later that day, the family went upriver to go rafting. The parents said they sent the girl and another child back to the campsite to grab their life jackets, according to the reports.
Only one child returned. That child told the parents the girl had walked away.
The mother said she became distressed when she saw a life jacket float down the river, the reports say. She wondered if the girl had gone into the water.
After the girl was found, the mother began packing up the campsite. Barrera had earlier asked to charge his cellphone and she noticed it was still in her vehicle.
She told investigators she looked through the phone and found the photos of the girl and other children.
A man camping nearby who assisted in the search said he spoke with Barrera earlier that day. He said Barrera told him he was “into” younger girls, the documents say.
The man told investigators he initially thought Barrera meant he was attracted to women in their 30s, but now he believes he meant juveniles.