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Eight more victims added to sex case against masseur

Defendant returns back to jail on $600,000 bail

The list of victims who were allegedly sexually assaulted by an East Palo Alto masseur has again grown, adding more felony charges to his roster of alleged crimes to a current total of 32, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office said.

Jose Garcia Plascencia, 55, was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Thursday, but prosecutors asked the court to amend the felony complaint to add more charges related to eight additional victims. That would bring the number of alleged victims to 17 for which he is being prosecuted.

Plascencia allegedly ran an unregulated massage business out of his converted garage in the 2400 block of Illinois Street. The case against him began in April after three victims came forward to report that Plascencia, who claimed to be a traditional Mexican "sobandero," or masseur, had touched them inappropriately during massages at his home. He was subsequently arrested.

East Palo Alto police asked for additional victims to come forward. Fifteen women as of June reported he had allegedly touched their genitals or engaged in other sexual behavior without their consent in incidents dating back to 2011. Prosecutors went forward with nine of those cases, San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. Plascencia pleaded not guilty in June.

As a result of Thursday's hearing, Plascencia now faces 32 felony charges that include sexual battery, forcible sexual penetration with a foreign object, sexual assault of a minor and unlawful sexual intercourse with an person unconscious of the nature of the act, Wagstaffe said.

"This is not the largest case in our history, but it is one of the very largest we have ever dealt with in San Mateo County," Wagstaffe said of the number of victims and for these types of crimes.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach granted prosecutors' request to amend the complaint and increased Plascencia's bail to $600,000. Prosecutors had asked the judge to increase his bail to $1,925,000. Plascencia was out of custody on $450,000 bond and he was returned to jail at the hearing.

Plascencia will return to court on Sept. 29 for a hearing on a defense motion and to set a new preliminary hearing date.

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