TURLOCK -- A man who worked as a volunteer at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Turlock appeared in court Monday for the first time since he was arrested last week on suspicion of sexually abusing two boys.
Eduardo Arellano Sanchez, 34, has been charged with two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child younger than 14.
He briefly appeared without an attorney for his arraignment hearing Monday afternoon. Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Valli Israels entered a not guilty plea on Sanchez's behalf.
Church officials say there is no indication the claimed incidents occurred at the church. Officials have notified parishioners of the arrest and asked them to call Turlock police if they have any information about the case.
The sexual abuse of a 13-year-old boy is claimed to have occurred from May 18, 2004, through Sept. 30, 2006, according to a criminal complaint filed in court Monday. The complaint further alleges that the defendant sexually abused the second victim, a 12-year-old boy, from June 1, 2009, through Jan. 1 of this year.
The charges indicate that Sanchez had recurring access to the children, who were listed as "John Doe" in the complaint. Information from Turlock police investigators about where the incidents are believed to have occurred and how the defendant is believed to have encountered these children was not available Monday afternoon.
Sister Terry Davis, a spokeswoman for the Stockton Diocese, said Sanchez was a parishioner at Sacred Heart Church.
"He was a volunteer in two (Spanish-language) religious education classes over the past five years," Davis said Monday. "He no longer has an active role in the parish, and there's no indication the (alleged sexual abuse) occurred on the Sacred Heart campus."
Sanchez volunteered in classes at the church, not at Sacred Heart School. Davis said he might have been a parishioner at the church longer than five years.
She had no further information about how Sanchez is believed to have encountered the children. She said a written statement was read at all Sacred Heart Masses on Saturday and Sunday, asking those with more information to call police.
Davis also said church volunteers never are left alone with children in a class; there always is at least one other adult in the room.
Sanchez entered the courtroom Monday afternoon wearing a jail inmate jumpsuit and shackles on his wrists and ankles. He was assisted in court by a Spanish-language court interpreter.
The defendant told the judge that he understood the criminal charges filed against him. Israels appointed the public defender's office to represent him, scheduled him to return to court Friday and set his bail amount at $500,000.
If he were to post bail and be released, the judge ordered Sanchez to stay away from the claimed victims listed in the criminal complaint. Sanchez remained in custody at the jail Monday evening.
Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.