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Olvera takes stand on own behalf

May 02, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

A 45-year-old man accused of five counts of lewd acts with a minor under age 14 testified Wednesday in the County Courthouse in El Centro.

Joseph Socorro Olvera, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, testified he did not touch a now 11-year-old girl inappropriately. Olvera is on trial for allegedly sexually molesting the girl from the mid-1990s until as recently as March 2001.

The girl was in the second grade when the alleged sexual abuse started and is now in the seventh grade.

Olvera's attorney, Thomas Storey of El Centro, asked about incidents that allegedly involved misconduct by Olvera.

One incident in which Olvera allegedly touched the girl occurred when Olvera was training with the Border Patrol on the East Coast for about eight months.

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During the training his girlfriend — the mother of the allegedly abused daughter — and two of her daughters went to visit Olvera for about a week and a half. Olvera allegedly molested the girl while he was in a Jacuzzi with her.

Another alleged incident occurred when the girl was playing on the computer while sitting in Olvera's lap.

Olvera denied both allegations. He said the only time he touched the girl was when he would pat her on the back.

Imperial County Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen asked if the girl had ever sat on his lap.

Olvera said she did when he would help her with her homework. She would sit on his lap so they could work on problems together, Olvera testified.

He said it was easier for her to sit on his lap than for him to crouch over her or for her to sit at another chair.

Owen asked Olvera if he thought sexual comments he had made to another Border Patrol agent about another young girl were distasteful.

He agreed and said he made the comments only to see the reaction of his colleagues. The comments were allegedly made when Olvera and two other agents were at a ranch interviewing a family. It was there he met the girl about whom he made the comments.

According to the agent, Olvera said the girl looked "attractive," and repeatedly looked at her breasts.

According to the agent, Olvera said to him, "You don't have to wait."

Owen asked Olvera if that comment could be interpreted as someone saying he wouldn't have to wait until she grows up to have sex with her.

He said yes.

Olvera also reportedly said, "I'd like to lock on those nipples."

Owen asked Olvera if he found such comments humorous. He said he did, but he agreed the comments were distasteful but simply raw humor.

Olvera's wife was called to the stand Wednesday. She said the two have been married for more than 20 years. They have a 21-year-old son and a 19-year-old daughter.

Olvera's wife said she had never seen him do anything inappropriate with any children.

She told the jury how the family would travel to Las Vegas for about a week and how the son and daughter were allowed to bring friends on the family vacations. That started when the two children were in their pre-teen-age years. She said they went almost every year for several years and there were never any problems between Olvera and the children.

Storey has one more witness to call, but the trial has been recessed until 10 a.m. Monday.

Superior Court Judge Matias Contreras said closing arguments might start Monday afternoon and the jury could start deliberating that day.

>>Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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