Fresno firefighter Jeffrey Sanchez pleaded not guilty Friday in Fresno County Superior Court to three felony charges in connection with the alleged rape of a 19-year-old woman last month.
A criminal complaint charges Sanchez, 36, with rape, forcible oral copulation and forcible sexual penetration by force.
After accepting the plea, Judge Jonathan Skiles allowed Sanchez to remain free on $105,000 bail. Sanchez’s next hearing is March 6.
Outside court, Sanchez told reporters that he adamantly denied the allegations.
“As a firefighter, I took an oath to help people, not hurt people,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez, a firefighter for eight years, was arrested Jan. 19 after the woman told sheriff’s detectives that he raped her inside his home on South Fowler Avenue near the Sunnyside Country Club in southeast Fresno.
A sheriff’s detective’s affidavit says the woman and her friend met Sanchez and his roommate at a bar in Clovis on the night of Dec. 18. They then traveled together to Sanchez’s home, where she said she and others smoked marijuana, according Detective David Rippe’s affidavit.
The woman, who was not named in the affidavit because she is a potential rape victim, said she she started to feel strange after drinking a beer that Sanchez handed her, the affidavit says. The woman recalled Sanchez taking her to a detached pool house. Once inside, she said Sanchez started to kiss her and take off her clothes, the affidavit says. The woman said “she couldn’t stop Jeffrey and had no physical control over her body,” Rippe wrote in his affidavit.
The affidavit says Sanchez then had sex with her against her will.
Outside court Friday, defense attorney Jeff Hammerschmidt said the woman lied about her age to get into the bar and gave a fake name. Though she alleged that Sanchez had drugged her, Hammerschmidt said investigative reports given to him by the prosecution say she had no “date rape” drug in her body.
The reports show that she had marijuana and alcohol in her body, Hammerschmidt said.
Sanchez also had alcohol in his body, but no illegal drugs, his lawyer said.