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Sheriff's custody deputy pleads not guilty to sex charges involving inmates
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Santa Barbara County

Sheriff's custody deputy pleads not guilty to sex charges involving inmates

From the What you need to know for Wednesday, September 2 series
  • Updated

A Santa Barbara County sheriff's custody deputy on Monday pleaded not guilty to sex-related charges in a case involving several female jail inmates, according to an attorney.

Salvador Vargas Jr., 34, of Santa Maria appeared for a warrant arraignment in Superior Court of Santa Barbara, where he pleaded not guilty to felony charges of forcible oral copulation and sexual activity in a detention facility, according to his attorney, Michael Carty.

Sheriff's detectives on Feb. 21 arrested Vargas and a second custody deputy, Gabriel Castro, 47, of Ventura, on suspicion of various sex crimes committed against inmates at the Main Jail, said sheriff's spokeswoman Raquel Zick.

The two were arrested following an 18-month internal investigation into suspected crimes committed against inmates, following a report from an inmate that developed into two separate investigations. 

Castro pleaded not guilty to sexual activity in a detention facility and sexual penetration by a foreign object on March 6. 

He's scheduled for a preliminary hearing at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 25 in Department 12 at Superior Court of Santa Barbara. 

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