Child at the center of Orange Cove political smear campaign

FRESNO, Calif.

Orange Cove police said the sexual abuse complaints seemed far-fetched from the beginning. But as they investigated police realized the allegations were an attempt to smear the names of two city council members, who are both at the center of a recall effort.

According to police, accusations of sexual abuse against several employees at the city-owned Julia Lopez Day Care Center are false.

Orange Cove police said the alleged victim, a 6-year-old, told investigators that the child's mother was lying.

"Due to the accusations being so heavily toward certain members of the daycare center, we are going to proceed with charges," said Orange Cove detective Guillermo Garza.

Police said the lies stem from an attempt to attack Orange Cove City Hall, specifically council members Glenda Hill and Frank Martinez. Several citizens are working to recall the pair.

Both Hill and Martinez declined an Action News request for an interview. They said Tuesday was the first time they had heard the allegations.

In June of last year Hill and Martinez supported a contentious move to bring in Community Action Partnership of Madera County to run the city day care center.

Even more controversial, they voted to remove former mayor Victor Lopez's name from the community center.

Detective Garza said he's never seen politics played out like this. "In my tenure in law enforcement, this is the first time where an allegation of this magnitude has come forward," he said.

Police have not named the woman who made the accusations, but they say she faces criminal charges. Police said her poor political play wasted investigator's time.

"During the course of the investigation we did have some help from outside agencies. We had child protective services involved. We did have the Fresno County District Attorney involved, as well as the Fresno Council [on Child Abuse Prevention]."

Detective Garza said because of all that help the 6-year-old exposed the truth. Police also said CPS considered taking the child away from the parents, but CPS does not yet have enough of a case to do that.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.