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Alleged child molester to appear in court May 16

Hollister resident Gilbert Lee Cortez faces 28 felony charges

A Hollister man who is charged with 28 felony sexual assault counts involving a child victim could soon find out if his case will go to trial, according to court records.

Gilbert Lee Cortez, 74, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on May 16 at the San Benito County Courthouse. In criminal cases, a preliminary hearing is typically when a judge determines if there is enough evidence against a defendant to go to trial.

Hollister Police arrested Cortez in November 2021, following a lengthy investigation. Police are still investigating to determine if Cortez has additional victims, though the current charges against him are related to only one male victim, according to San Benito County Assistant District Attorney Ellen Campos.

Charges against Cortez include continuous sexual assault as well as multiple counts of different sexual acts with a child victim, according to court records. Police have said the crimes occurred from the late 1980s to early 2000s. The victim is now an adult.

A current criminal protective order on file against Cortez prevents the defendant from having any contact with the victim.

Cortez pleaded not guilty to the 28 charges on Dec. 9, 2021, according to the court file. He is currently out of custody with a GPS monitor while he awaits trial, according to court records.

The victim reported to Hollister Police last year that Cortez had repeatedly molested him when he was a juvenile, according to police.

As officers investigated the allegations, they suspected that Cortez had victimized other children as long as 20-30 years ago, police said. Detectives investigated a number of unprosecuted reports of sexual assault against minors from the 1990s and 2000s, but many of the crimes had passed the statute of limitations. Thus authorities could not charge the suspect for those allegations.

Cortez had lived in Hollister and had been involved in the community as a little league coach and other roles since the 1970s, police reported in November.