INDIO – A jury was seated today for the trial of a Hemet man accused of posing as a woman on Facebook and soliciting teenage girls and women to engage in sex acts for money, including two Shadow Hills High School students who reported him to authorities.
Eliberto Cruz Jacobo, 46, is charged with 61 felony counts, including human trafficking of a minor, inducing or persuading a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, statutory rape and possession of child pornography.
Opening statements are scheduled for Monday morning at the Larson Justice Center.
The charges involve seven minors allegedly victimized between late 2013 and early 2015, but prosecutors allege there are nearly 70 potential victims in total.
Jacobo is accused of posing as “Marlissa Garcia” on Facebook and having conversations with numerous women and teenage girls ranging in age from 14 to 31, suggesting they could make money as escorts.
“Marlissa Garcia” would continue to recommend that the victims pursue prostitution, even if they said they were minors, the prosecution’s trial brief alleges. Prosecutors allege some of the victims did end up engaging in prostitution with a client known as “Robert,” later identified as Jacobo.
Sheriff’s deputies tracked the messages from “Marlissa Garcia” to an IP address at the defendant’s home, where deputies found photos and videos on his computer of minors allegedly engaged in sex acts with Jacobo. Some of the juveniles also pointed “Robert” out to detectives when shown a photographic lineup of suspects, according to the prosecution.
According to the trial brief, “Marlissa Garcia” was first brought to the attention of law enforcement in November 2014 by two students at Indio’s Shadow Hills High following a school presentation on human trafficking. The
girls told deputies that “Marlissa Garcia” had recruited them on Facebook for prostitution.
Jacobo was taken into custody in early 2015 and is being held at the Riverside County jail in Indio in lieu of $2 million bail.