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Ex-L.A. County deputy sentenced to jail and probation for sexually abusing 12-year-old girl

Jovanni Argueta
Jovanni Argueta.
(Costa Mesa Police Department)

A former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy has been ordered to spend 180 days in jail and five years on probation after pleading guilty to sexually abusing a 12-year-old Costa Mesa girl.

Jovanni Argueta, 26, pleaded guilty Jan. 11 in Orange County Superior Court to committing a lewd or lascivious act with a minor younger than 14 and attempted unlawful sexual intercourse, both felonies. He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disobeying a restraining order, according to court records.

Argueta was sentenced to three years in prison, but the prison time was suspended as long as he does not violate probation, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Argueta, a Los Angeles resident, entered the guilty pleas as part of a deal with prosecutors for a reduced sentence. As part of the deal, prosecutors dropped one felony count of luring a child with intent to commit a specified crime.

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If he had been convicted by a jury, he could have faced up to nine years in state prison and six months in county jail, according to the district attorney’s office.

Argueta was arrested Oct. 28, 2015, at a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department training facility in Whittier. Police said at the time that they suspected Argueta was in an inappropriate relationship with a Costa Mesa Middle School student he had met through an online video game.

After communicating online, the two began meeting in person on the campus and elsewhere, according to authorities. Prosecutors said the sexual abuse occurred between May 1 and Oct. 22, 2015.

Argueta and the girl reportedly were seen kissing at the school. A sworn statement from a Costa Mesa police detective filed in Superior Court alleged that Argueta performed sex acts with the girl multiple times.

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After Argueta was arrested and released from jail on bail, “he was seen on the victim’s school campus on two different occasions trying to contact the victim,” the detective wrote.

In November 2015, Costa Mesa Middle School and Costa Mesa High School — which share campus space — were locked down after school officials said Argueta was seen leaving the parking lot.

Argueta must register as a sex offender for the term of his probation. If he violates probation, he would have to register as a sex offender for life.

hannah.fry@latimes.com

Twitter: @HannahFryTCN

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