A Kern County judge on Wednesday ruled the former owner of the downtown Bakersfield cocktail lounge the Green Room and his ex-girlfriend will be tried together on charges they committed sex acts with an 11-year-old girl.
The ruling was made over the objections of defense attorneys who said their clients are each blaming the other and should be tried separately.
In a new allegation, Deputy Public Defender Paul Cadman said his client, Frank Mark Sanchez, was extorted and drugged by co-defendant Tauney Lee Van Sickle.
Cadman said Sanchez, who is being held on $1 million bail, would be prejudiced if he appeared in front of a jury with Van Sickle, who is out of custody. The implication is a jury would be more likely to believe Van Sickle since she's free and Sanchez isn't.
David A. Torres, the attorney representing Van Sickle, told the court trying the defendants together would be "highly prejudicial" as there is video evidence of Sanchez in the case that, once viewed by a jury, would negatively impact his client.
In arguing for the cases to be consolidated, prosecutor Alexandria Ottoman said both involve the same victim, the same witnesses, the same type of offenses and the same evidence. She noted there is also video evidence of Van Sickle, not just Sanchez.
Judge Michael G. Bush agreed with her.
"This is the perfect type of case to be joined," he said.
Sanchez is accused by the alleged victim, who is now an adult, of engaging in sex acts with her for years, beginning when she was 5 years old. Police said in court documents Sanchez admitted to the abuse.
Van Sickle dated Sanchez years ago and was filmed engaging in sex acts with the child when the girl was 11, according to court documents. Van Sickle admitted committing the acts to make money for a "sex blog" run by Sanchez, police said in the documents.
The Green Room closed following Sanchez's arrest in December.
Van Sickle was working as a nurse at the time of her arrest on Dec. 27. The state attorney general's office has suspended her nursing license pending the outcome of the criminal case.
The two are scheduled for trial on Aug. 13.