ELKO – A charge of sexual assault against an Elko man was reduced to two misdemeanors Friday in justice court.

Ernesto Cruz-Castaneda, 26, is now charged with one count of battery and one count of coercion in an amended criminal complaint, dropping a charge of sexual assault, a category “A” felony.

On March 22, Cruz-Castaneda was arrested on a warrant stemming from an incident on Jan. 3 when he visited the alleged victim at her parents’ home in the Hamilton Stage area. They had met several days earlier on an online dating site called “MeetMe.”

The woman, whose age was not given in the police report, and Cruz-Castaneda sat on the couch in the living room together where he allegedly tried to kiss her, “look down her shirt,” and gave her a “hickie” that she did not want.

After the two went into her bedroom to “cuddle,” the woman told police detectives that she rejected his sexual advances and tried to leave, but he prevented her from leaving and sexually assaulted her.

In the amended criminal complaint, Cruz-Castaneda is accused of “willfully and unlawfully [using] force and/or violence” upon the victim, and restraining “her legs with his arms and refusing to let go.”

Cruz-Castaneda entered a plea of not guilty before Judge Mason Simons and the case was set for trial on June 28.

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