A Lodi man was charged Tuesday with six felony charges of indecent exposure - less than four months after he had two separate indecent exposure convictions expunged from his record
Manuel Cantu Jr., 32, is accused of exposing himself to women in southwest Lodi.
This spring, Cantu filed paperwork seeking to have two 1997 indecent exposure convictions expunged from his court record.
Prosecutors did not object and Judge David Warner signed the order May 15.
But those convictions still turn up in Cantu's court record and they also still count as prior convictions. That enabled prosecutors to file the new charges as felonies rather than misdemeanors.
In most of the recent incidents, he was in or near his vehicle when he would strike up a conversation with a female, Lodi Police Sgt. Doug Chinn said. When the women got closer to talk, they would then allegedly see Cantu masturbating.
Five of the new incidents happened between July and August, and the sixth charge related to indecent exposure between October and November, according to charges filed by the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office.
Cantu, wearing a pressed gray shirt with his hair neatly combed, asked for a public defender at his Tuesday arraignment. The construction worker, who was born in Lodi, told Judge Bob McNatt that he had recently lost his job and could not afford an attorney.
Through Deputy Public Defender Eric Taylor, Cantu pleaded not guilty to the charges, and McNatt tentatively scheduled a Sept. 18 preliminary hearing. The judge set bail at $50,000.
Cantu was first arrested last week on one count of indecent exposure and posted $10,000 bail, but Detective Leo Ramirez believed he could be connected to other reports. Cantu was again arrested Friday once Ramirez had found more victims and a judge raised the bail.
Monday's charges came almost exactly 10 years after Cantu was convicted of misdemeanor indecent exposure in Lodi on Sept. 9, 1997. A month later, he was charged with exposing himself three times over a four-day span in late October 1997, that time as a felony.
He pleaded no contest in December 1997, telling a probation officer and the judge that he blamed steroid use for his actions. He lost 30 pounds after going off steroids while in jail and his attorney said he would remain off the drugs.
Ten years went by with no new charges, according to court records, and Cantu registered each year as a sex offender.
He is not listed on the California Attorney General's Megan's Law Web site, though indecent exposure is a charge that makes someone eligible to be listed.
Gareth Lacy, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office, said he could not talk about individual cases due to privacy laws but that about a quarter of registered sex offenders are not shown on the Web site. Additionally, some offenders are listed only by zip code, he said.
It was not clear if the expungement got Cantu's name off the Web site, or if it had previously been removed.
Not all expungements are the same under California law. Cantu's case fell under a rule that allowed him to withdraw a guilty or no contest plea, but it still counts as a prior conviction if charged again.
He was also required to disclose the prior cases if applying for public office or state agency.