INDIO – A former Riverside County sheriff’s deputy accused of kidnapping and raping a woman in La Quinta worked for the Coachella Valley Unified School District for 16 months, the man’s lawyer confirmed Thursday.
Marc Javier Diaz, 35, of Indio, is charged with kidnapping to commit rape and two counts of rape under the threat of authority of a public official. He faces life in prison if convicted, said Michael Jeandron of the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
Diaz is accused of walking into a La Quinta business Jan. 31, displaying a law enforcement badge and demanding identification from employees and the people inside, said sheriff’s Deputy Herlinda Valenzuela.
He allegedly ordered a female customer who had no identification into his pickup truck, drove her to a secluded location and raped her, Valenzuela said.
Diaz appeared in court today for a felony settlement conference — an informal discussion before a judge between a defense lawyer and a prosecutor to discuss a possible resolution to the case — and Riverside County Superior Court Judge Thomas Douglass ordered him to return on March 10 for a preliminary hearing.
Deputy Public Defender David Prendergast, who represents Diaz, confirmed outside court that Diaz worked for the Coachella Valley Unified School District for 16 months.
Prendergast said he did not know the specific school or position Diaz had within the school district.
Officials at the Coachella Valley superintendent’s office previously had “no comment” on whether Diaz worked for the school district, and the superintendent was unavailable this morning.
Diaz was arrested in 2004 on suspicion of using a prostitute in Indio, said Ben Guitron of the Indio Police Department.
At the time, he was a nine-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department and was working in the Indio courthouse, but the next month he resigned, Valenzuela said.
The District Attorney’s Office never filed charges against Diaz for the prostitution allegation because of insufficient evidence, Jeandron said.
Diaz is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.