In Bartow Superior Court Tuesday, Cherokee Judicial Circuit Judge David K. Smith denied an attorney's motion requesting bond be set for a man accused of molesting his own biological daughter.
Efren Villegas-Morales, of Cartersville, was booked into the Bartow County Jail on July 30. He was charged with aggravated child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes, sexual battery against a child under the age of 16 and aggravated sodomy — "committing sodomy with force and against a person's will or person is less than 10 years of age."
"These are serious charges," said Cherokee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth York. "These allegations go from fondling all the way to oral sodomy on the child, as well as aggravated sodomy with attempted penetration."
Judge Smith described the charges as among the most "invasive" and "miserable" types of aggravated child molestation anyone can be accused of committing.
Under Georgia state law, any criminal defendant whose case is not presented to a grand jury within 90 days of his or her arrest has the right to have a bond "set upon application to the court."
Villegas-Morales' defense attorney Lance McCoy noted that cutoff date, Oct. 30, is fast approaching.
York said she is working to get a grand jury convened before the end of the month. "My goal is to get this indicted quickly," she said.
The state, she added, has flight risk worries about Villegas-Morales, who is a naturalized citizen.
"He is not from the United States and he is not from Bartow County," she said. "We have concerns about him reappearing, possibly fleeing in regards to this case and the serious nature of the charges."
York noted the victim's mother was present at the hearing.
"She did ask that I let the court know her request at this time, based on the effects this had on her child, is that the defendant not be placed out on bond," she said.
York said the victim claims the abuse occurred when she was in the "third or fifth grade."
"These events, she disclosed to her mother and then later a forensic interviewer," she said. "And she has been in therapy as well."