Authorities said a cook at an Indian restaurant in Riverside, California sexually assaulted a young girl in the restaurant's restroom on June 6.
The unidentified child’s mother decided to check on her daughter after growing worried about why she was was taking so long in the bathroom, The Press Enterprise reports.
Shortly after she entered the restroom, she says she found one of the Punjab Palace's cooks, 34-year-old Avimael Lopez, in the bathroom.
The child reportedly told her mother that Lopez had engaged in inappropriate acts with her. After calling the police, Lopez was arrested.
He was charged on June 8 with “engaging in oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child younger than 10, kidnapping, and engaging in lewd acts with a child,” reports The Press Enterprise.
Lopez is in jail with bail set at $2 million.
So far the restaurant has not disclosed further details about the incident.
The incident sparked controversy.
Some argue the recent move towards adopting gender-neutral bathrooms as a contributing factor, saying such restrooms encourage sexual predators.
“No one stopped the man from entering the woman’s facility, which we certainly have [President] Barack Obama and his liberal decree to thank since it virtually erased any sex segregation of our public facilities,” writes Christy Lee Parker for Mad World News. “[It] just goes to show how brazen these perpetrators have become thanks to the progressives whose policies allow for it.”
However, many states and cities have been allowing people to use restrooms that align with what they believe their gender identity to be without incident, Time reports. The original story in The Press Enterprise did not note whether the restaurant had separate restrooms for men and women.
Police officers and other authorities say they have not seen evidence in these areas to prove gender-neutral bathrooms encourage sexual assault.
“We have not seen that,” an Iowa police department spokesman said, reports Time.
“I doubt [the news laws are] gonna encourage the behavior. If the behavior’s there, [sexual predators are] gonna behave as they’re gonna behave no matter what the laws are,” the spokesman added.