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Santa Rosa man faces felony child abuse charges

A Santa Rosa craftsman whose custom woodwork is on display at local wineries, hotels, businesses and numerous homes has been arrested on suspicion of child molestation and is being held on $1.8 million bail.

Jesus Sanchez Chaves, 42, is facing prosecution on six felony charges of child sexual abuse, one of which could send him to prison for 25 years to life if he's convicted.

Most of the charges stem from alleged conduct with a 12-year-old girl on Aug. 11, according to court records, though two counts involving the same victim date as far back as April 2008, when she would have been closer to 7 years old.

Chaves has pleaded not guilty in the case, which follows on his Aug. 14 arrest and jailing.

The charges against him allege rape of a child under 14, oral copulation of a child under 14, sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child under 10, two counts of suspected child molestation by force, fear or duress, and molestation of a child under age 14.

A seventh count alleging possession of child pornography was added to the charges on Friday.

Law enforcement officials have not released details of Chaves' arrest. Deputy District Attorney Barbara Nanney also declined comment.

Chaves' defense lawyer, Roy Miller, said he was awaiting completed reports from various detectives who are working the case and said he had his own investigator looking into it. It is a complicated situation, he said.

"I've heard all sorts of different things, and now is not the time to comment on them," he said.

Chaves returns to court Wednesday for setting of a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to go forward with the case.


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