A Santa Maria Uber driver living illegally in the U.S. pleaded not guilty to multiple rape and burglary charges Monday at the San Luis Obispo Superior Court, a week after being arrested for allegedly targeting intoxicated San Luis Obispo women and sexually assaulting them.
Alfonso Alarcon-Nunez, 39, faces 10 criminal charges including forcible rape, rape of an intoxicated person and first-degree burglary, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said during a press conference Monday.
Bail was set at $1.47 million, increased from the $200,000 amount set during his arrest. Alarcon-Nunez will return to court at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 29 for a pre-preliminary hearing.
Alarcon-Nunez was an active Uber driver in the city of Santa Barbara and in San Luis Obispo, and prosecutors believe there may be additional victims in two counties.
"We have evidence that leads us to believe there are other victims," said Dow, who noted investigators are looking into Alarcon-Nunez's activities in Santa Barbara County, where he began working as an Uber driver during September 2017.
"We're going through all the forensic data we have now to ensure that we can identify them. Anyone that believes they may have been a victim, or if they have any other information ... is urged to contact [us.]"
The charges stem from multiple incidents involving four college students (all female) between Dec. 17 and Jan. 14. Prosecutors believe Alarcon-Nunez used his position as an Uber driver to target intoxicated women in San Luis Obispo, offer them rides and escort them back home where the rapes, burglaries and thefts occurred. To obscure his identity, prosecutors said Alarcon-Nunez used Venmo, a popular mobile payment service, to collect his payment.
Prosecutors allege Alarcon-Nunez assaulted Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2 — a 19-year-old woman and her roommate — at their San Luis Obispo residence the night of Dec. 17 and early morning Dec. 18. The women reported the incident to the police that morning, believing the suspect to be their Uber driver, later identified as Alarcon-Nunez. Two more assaults were reported on Jan. 5 and Jan. 14. Alarcon-Nunez was arrested Wednesday by San Luis Obispo police at his Santa Maria home.
Dow said he was contacted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with information that Alarcon-Nunez is a Mexican citizen illegally living in the U.S. who had agreed to a voluntary deportation from New Mexico in 2005. It is unknown when Alarcon-Nunez re-entered the U.S. or how long he has been in California. His immigration status will not have an impact on court proceedings, according to Dow.
Anyone with information regarding incidents involving Alarcon-Diaz is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 549-7867 or the District Attorney’s Office at 781-5821.
Dow also cautioned individuals who utilize popular ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings.
"There are many good folks that are Uber drivers and Lyft drivers, but there are some things individuals can and should be doing to protect themselves," he said. "When you hire an Uber driver and you see who the driver is on your phone, you get a picture of the driver and a license plate. Any consumer needs to verify that info before they get in that vehicle."