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Man accused of repeatedly raping disabled Banning woman to stand trial

Rene Leonel Robles Cerna
Banning Police Department
Rene Leonel Robles Cerna

A Banning man accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled woman over a five-year span was ordered to stand trial today.

Rene Leonel Robles Cerna, 36, was arrested on April 20 following a months-long investigation by the Banning Police Department. Along with three counts of forcible rape of a mentally impaired subject, Cerna is charged with two counts each of forcible sodomy and penetration with a foreign object, with a sentence-enhancing allegation of causing physical injury.

The defendant appeared at the Banning Justice Center for a preliminary hearing on Monday, where Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Prevost determined there was sufficient evidence for Cerna to be held to answer on the charges.

He is being held without bail at the adjacent Smith Correctional Facility and is scheduled to return for a post-preliminary hearing on Dec. 8.

According to Banning police, detectives were initially contacted about the assault allegations in the first half of 2020, culminating in an investigation that required extensive investigation because of the victim's limitations.

Court documents allege that the defendant first abused the woman, identified only as "E.S.," in the winter of 2015, and following that time, he perpetrated additional offenses, ending in the winter of 2020. The circumstances behind the alleged acts and how Cerna knew the victim were not disclosed.

Authorities also did not reveal who ultimately reported the offenses. An arrest warrant was obtained and served on the defendant April 20, 2021, and he was taken into custody without incident at a residence on West Ramsey Street.

According to court records, Cerna has a prior misdemeanor conviction for driving the under the influence.

City News Service

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