District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced today that on October 11, 2022, 36-year-old Salvador Vargas pled guilty as charged to forcible oral copulation, in violation of Penal Code section 287(c)(2)(A), and sexual activity with an inmate, in violation of Penal Code section 289.6(h), both felonies.
An investigation led by Sergeant Travis Henderson and Detective Ruben Esparza with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department revealed that between 2016 and 2018, the defendant took advantage of several inmates at the Santa Barbara County Jail, where he was employed as a discharge planner. Several women accused the defendant of sexually assaulting them, and providing favors to those who engaged in sexual activity with him.
In August of 2017, the defendant transported a female inmate – Jane Doe – who had been released from jail on electronic monitoring, and into a residential treatment facility. During the transportation of Jane Doe, the defendant parked his vehicle. While at this location in the City of Santa Barbara, the defendant forced Jane Doe to orally copulate him. Jane Doe, terrified that the defendant would send her back to jail if she did not comply, eventually gave into his demands. Although Jane Doe told a friend partial details of what occurred, she never reported the sexual assault to law enforcement as she was afraid of what further repercussions she would suffer.
The tenacious investigative efforts on the part of detectives with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department eventually led them to Jane Doe, who ultimately told them what had occurred.
After that, dedicated professionals from both the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, worked together to obtain corroborating evidence.
According to DA Joyce Dudley, “The prosecution team, led by Supervising Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian then had the arduous task garnering the trust and support of the victim and other witnesses who were originally afraid to come forward. On the eve of trial, the defendant decided to plead guilty to all charges and allegations, and be sentenced by the court. The guilty plea in this case was not a result of any plea bargain offered by the Prosecution, but rather was the result of an extraordinary investigation by two law enforcement agencies and a caring and hardworking prosecution team.”
Sentencing is scheduled for January 24, 2023, in Department 1 of the Santa Barbara Superior Court, in front of The Honorable Judge Thomas Adams. The defendant is facing a maximum sentence of 8 years in state prison and lifetime sex offender registration.