Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Hailey man faces lewd conduct charge

Suspected illegal immigrant arraigned in district court

Express Staff Writer

Ovidio Ricaldi-Villajuan

A Hailey man was arraigned in Blaine County 5th District Court Tuesday on a felony charge of lewd conduct with a minor child under 16.

Ovidio Ricaldi-Villajuan, 24, is accused of sexual misconduct with a 4-year-old girl on Nov. 11 at a residence on Winterhaven Drive in southeastern Hailey. He was arrested by Hailey police at that time and has been incarcerated in the Blaine County Jail since.

Ricaldi-Villajuan, who is represented by public defender Cheri Hicks, pleaded not guilty to the charge at his arraignment.

Public information in the case is somewhat limited because the "probable cause affidavit" that was filed by the Hailey Police Department and that led to the charge against Ricaldi-Villajuan has been sealed by court order and is not available for public perusal.

According to court records, Ricaldi-Villajuan is also suspected of being an illegal immigrant and could be subject to arrest by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities if released from jail on bond.

Court records further indicate that Ricaldi-Villajuan has been offered a plea agreement by the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. However, terms of the agreement were not publicly available.

Ricaldi-Villajuan was ordered to stand trial in district court by Magistrate Court Judge R. Ted Israel after Ricaldi-Villajuan waived his preliminary hearing in early December.

The case is now being heard by District Court Judge Barry Wood, who was assigned in December after Judge Robert Elgee disqualified himself at the request of Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas.

In filing a motion to disqualify Elgee, Thomas was not required to give a reason. However, this is at least the fourth felony case since early September in which Thomas has filed a motion for Elgee's disqualification.

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