Hollister Police on Nov. 17 arrested a 74-year-old man accused of molesting a number of male juveniles since at least the early 1990s.
Gilbert Cortez, of Hollister, was arrested after a detailed investigation by the Hollister Police Department. He is accused of two felonies, and is in custody at San Benito County Jail with a bail amount of $1 million for each charge, says a press release from Hollister PD.
Detectives think there may be more victims of Cortez’s, dating back to the early 1980s.
On Oct. 12, an alleged victim of Cortez’s contacted Hollister Police to report the repeated crimes that Cortez had committed against him as a juvenile, says the press release. The initial report was forwarded to detectives for further investigation.
A Hollister Police detective followed up on the suspect and found several reports of sexual assault against minors from the 1990s and 2000s, in which Cortez was identified as a suspect. Cortez was not arrested or charged for those incidents because the statute of limitations had expired, police said.
Based on the “magnitude of the crimes reported and the number of possible victims of unreported crimes,” Hollister PD detectives solicited the help of the San Benito County District Attorney’s Office, says the press release.
Investigators began contacting previously documented victims, as well as victims named by other parties, police said. “Due to some of the alleged crimes dating back to the 1980s, it was a difficult task finding the people involved and those willing to come forward,” says the press release.
Detectives were able to locate two victims who revealed alleged sexual crimes—still within the statute of limitations—that Cortez had reportedly perpetrated against them, police said.
On Nov. 17, investigators drafted a search warrant for Cortez’s property. The court approved the warrant, and detectives went to Cortez’s home on the 100 block of College Street to conduct a search. Cortez was arrested and taken into custody.
The United Narcotics Enforcement Team joined Hollister Police in serving the search warrant at Cortez’s residence.
Cortez was booked at the county on two allegations of sexual assault, police said. One of the charges is lewd and lascivious acts on a minor, for crimes alleged between 1989 to the early 1990s. The other charge is for continuous sexual abuse of a minor for crimes alleged from the mid-1990s to the early-2000s. Cortez’s bail is set at $1 million for each of the two charges.
The Hollister Police investigation revealed there may be similar unreported crimes against children dating back to the early 1980s, authorities said. Cortez has lived in Hollister and been involved in the community as a little league coach and other roles since the 1970s.
“It is important for anyone with information or who is aware of any victims of sexual crimes allegedly committed by Cortez to come forward and assist us in furthering our investigation,” says the press release. “The Hollister Police Department knows victims of sexual abuse often suffer in silence through difficult and painful memories. The effects of this abuse can drastically alter their lives and continue to affect them today. Many would not want to relive these memories or events, but we urge anyone who may have been victimized by Cortez or anyone else to stand with the victims who have come forward thus far.”
The press release added, “The Hollister Police Department stands ready to help and seek justice for victims of sexual assaults. We will work with our law enforcement partners to hold those responsible accountable for their actions; no matter how long it has been.”
Anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault and doesn’t feel ready to come forward can reach out to local services for assistance. Services are available from:
– Community Solutions: 1.877.363.7238, www.communitysolutions.org
– Victim Services Unit: 831.634.1397
– Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network: 1.800.656.HOPE, www.rainn.org
– Victim Compensation Program: 1.800.777.9229, www.victimcompensation.ca.gov
– San Benito County District Attorney’s Office Victim Advocates: 1.831.636.4120.
The Hollister Police investigation into Cortez is ongoing. Anyone with information can call Hollister PD at 831.638.4331 or the anonymous WeTip line at 800.78.CRIME. Information provided to WeTip may qualify for a reward.