REDWOOD CITY -- A 26-year-old man who said he's in love with a 13-year-old Half Moon Bay girl faces child molestation charges for a sexual relationship sparked after the pair met at a dance in 2012, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

Gregorio Padilla-Luis, of Half Moon Bay, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in San Mateo County Superior Court to the charges and was being held in lieu of $300,000 bail, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Padilla-Luis allegedly told police he and the girl have been dating since meeting at a Half Moon Bay dance in July, when the girl was 12. They've had sex seven times in Padilla-Luis' truck, he told police, but always with the girl's consent, Wagstaffe said.

The girl's parents discovered the relationship in Half Moon Bay around 1 a.m. Monday, when they were awakened by the sound of a house door slamming. It was their daughter sneaking out, Wagstaffe said. After 30 minutes of searching they allegedly found her in the suspect's truck, partially undressed.

The suspect "told the father that he loved the victim," said Wagstaffe.

Padilla-Luis is due back in court July to face three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.