Skip to Content

Case against Banning school counselor accused of sex abuse expands, moves to SD

Ruben Rico Franco
Banning Police Department
Ruben Rico Franco

Editor's Note: A story that ran on the CNS wire Monday stated that Riverside County prosecutors had requested that a judge dismiss all counts against the defendant for unspecified reasons. The story stemmed from basic notations in the court minutes and emails from the D.A.'s communications director, who was going by the same minutes. The dismissal actually occurred because the complaint in Riverside County was grafted onto a separate one in San Diego County, and the latter is now preeminent, replacing the Riverside County complaint. The consolidated case has been transferred to San Diego County, as noted in the updated story below.

A former school guidance counselor in Banning accused of sexually assaulting a female student several decades ago is also accused of abusing three girls in San Diego County, where the criminal matter will be heard going forward, authorities confirmed today.   

Ruben Rico Franco, 64, was arrested in December following a Banning Police Department investigation that spanned nearly two years.   

Franco was charged in January with four counts of forcible lewd acts on a child, three counts each of oral copulation of a minor and sexual penetration of a child, and one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, also known as statutory rape.

The defendant had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing at the Banning Justice Center on Monday. But Riverside County prosecutors informed Superior Court Judge Mark Singerton that the matter was being transferred to San Diego County, where Franco is charged in a three-victim sexual abuse case awaiting disposition.  

According to the District Attorney's Office, the Riverside County and San Diego County cases are being consolidated, and further proceedings will be in San Diego County Superior Court.

Franco was awaiting custody transfer Tuesday from the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, where he's being held without bail, to the San Diego Central Jail.

Investigators allege the sexual abuse of the Banning victim began in 1995, when the woman, whose identity was not disclosed, was 10 years old, and continued until 1999.  

The specific circumstances were not disclosed.   

A police statement indicated that Franco made initial contact with the student at the campus, which wasn't named, and thereafter had multiple encounters with her. He was in his 30s at the time and has since retired.   

The woman, now in her 30s, approached police in February 2021 to report the alleged acts.  

It was unclear why the investigation did not conclude until early December 2022, when the defendant was taken into custody.   

The circumstances connected to the San Diego County case were not specified.

Franco has no documented prior felony or misdemeanor convictions in Riverside County.

Be the first to know when news breaks in Coachella Valley. Download the News Channel 3 app here.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

City News Service


News Channel 3 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content