Trial ordered for sex offenders accused of sex acts with teen girl in El Cajon
Editor's note: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing.
Two registered sex offenders accused of engaging in sex acts with a 16-year-old girl at an El Cajon motel were ordered Thursday to stand trial on several felony sex crime counts.
Lawrence Cantrell, 34, and Michael Inman, 70, were arrested in March for alleged sex acts with the minor at the Motel 6 on Montrose Court.
Police first learned of the alleged encounter after an employee for homeless services provider People Assisting the Homeless — or PATH — told police that in a phone conversation, Cantrell admitted to sex acts with the girl.
Further investigation led to the discovery of a video on each man's cell phone allegedly showing the juvenile engaging in sex acts with Inman, police said.
During a preliminary hearing held Thursday in El Cajon Superior Court, defense attorneys for both men argued their clients were told by the girl that she was 18 and had no reason to believe otherwise, though prosecutors allege both defendants suspected she was underage.
El Cajon police Det. Jeffrey Domenech testified that he spoke with Cantrell in jail, who stated he questioned the girl multiple times about her age, including during the alleged sex acts.
Inman allegedly stated the girl had told him she was 18, but he didn't believe she was an adult due to her physical appearance, El Cajon police Det. Nathaniel Saquilon testified. Inman also allegedly stated that he "wouldn't mind marrying her in a couple years, when she turned 18," according to the detective.
Following the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Clayton Carr said, "I think the evidence presented today at the preliminary hearing established that at no point did either defendant sincerely and reasonably and actually believe that this girl was 18 years old."
Both men have previously been convicted of sex offenses and now faces charges related to alleged sex acts with the minor and possession of child pornography.
Inman was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape in 1978 in Orange County and lewd acts upon a child in 2005 in San Diego County. Cantrell was convicted of possession of child pornography in 2018 in San Diego County.
Inman faces up to 56 years to life in state prison if convicted of all counts, while Cantrell faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.