Cottonwood woman arraigned on molestation charge stemming from 1998

A 27-year-old Cottonwood woman on the run from police for more than two years pleaded innocent Monday to molesting a 12-year-old boy in 1998.

Julia Dawn Cardenas, 27, was arrested in Winslow last month and extradited to Yavapai County Dec.1. She is being held in the Yavapai County Jail on $50,000 for theft and molestation.

According to court documents, Cardenas had been living in Springfield, Mo., since the summer of 1998. She was arrested Nov. 21 when Winslow police ran a background check on her after she stopped at the police station and asked for car assistance. It is unclear what she was doing in Winslow or how long she had been there, Winslow police said.

Cardenas had been under suspicion for molestation since April 1998 when the mother of the 12-year-old boy found two letters in his room allegedly written by Cardenas. According to court documents, one of the letters described a sexual encounter between Cardenas and the 12-year-old.

"So how did you like playing truth, dare and double dare?" the letter stated. "So now you’re not a virgin! So are you mad at me for what we did last night? Are you sorry for what we did?…" "So what do you think about me being half your age?"

During a police interview conducted April 23, the 12-year-old told investigators he had played Truth or Dare with Cardenas eight or nine times at her suggestion. The last time they played, April 5, the 12-year-old said he had declined to play because he was already in bed and almost asleep. When he woke up later that night, he said his blankets were on the floor and his shirt and shorts had been removed.

During a tape-recorded telephone call conducted the same day, Cardenas allegedly questioned and coached the boy about what he should tell his mother about the letters.

"I guess don’t say anything. That is up to you." Cardenas said.

The boy said, "We had sex. Don’t you think she is going to be mad?"

"Probably," Cardenas replied.

When confronted by the 12-year-old’s mother, Cardenas denied the allegations, court records state.

Cardenas and her two children had been living with the boy’s family since February while she was going through a divorce and had nowhere to live, court documents state.

A letter written to detectives by the 12-year-old in May 1998 allege Cardenas also threatened the 12-year-old with bodily harm if he refused to let her fondle him.

The theft charge against Cardenas stems from dozens of telephone calls made from her host family’s home to psychic and sex hotlines, court records state. The phone bills exceed $1,000.

Cardenas is scheduled to appear again in court Jan. 8 for a case management conference.

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