Trial ordered for ‘streets czar’

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The city of San Diego's “streets czar” was ordered Thursday to stand trial on a felony charge of committing a lewd act on a child for allegedly molesting a female relative seven years ago, when she was 10 years old.

Mario Sierra, 47, faces up to eight years in state prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Fanny Yu.

Sierra was named San Diego's “street czar” earlier this year, when the city merged all of its street operations and appointed him director of the Transportation and Stormwater Department.

The city has placed Sierra on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the criminal case.

The alleged victim testified today that Sierra molested her in the early part of 2004 as the two laid on a couch watching a pornographic movie on television. Sierra was wearing only his underwear, she said.

The girl, now 17, said Sierra moved her hand onto his genitals, and when she tried to move her hand away, he placed it back on his private parts for a longer time.

“I felt him moving, but I didn't know what he was doing,” she testified.

The girl said the molestation ended when Sierra picked up her hand and wiped it off against the couch.

“I didn't want to tell anybody,” the alleged victim said. “I didn't want any chaos or drama.”

The girl said she wanted to wait until she was 18 to tell anyone, but ended up telling her mother what had happened as they watched an episode of “Oprah” last Oct. 20.

Sierra was arrested Feb. 14.

On cross-examination, the alleged victim told defense attorney Thomas Warwick that she complained last year that a “kid” at school smacked her on the buttocks. The girl said she also complained to her parents last year that a doctor made her take off a robe and made her feel uncomfortable.

She said she first heard the word “masturbate” when police brought it up to her.

After the morning-long preliminary hearing, Judge Amalia Meza ruled that enough evidence had been presented for Sierra — who is free on bail — to stand trial July 1. A readiness conference was scheduled for June 14.

Categories: KUSI