MARTINEZ -- Characterizing him as a menace who preys on children, a preliminary hearing judge on Tuesday ordered a Concord man to trial on charges that he had sex with boys as young as 13 whom he met on the Internet.
Anthony Tafoya, 23, was held to answer on more than 40 felonies involving alleged sex crimes against four Contra Costa County boys, ages 13 through 15, in 2011 and 2012. Some of the charges carry special allegations that Tafoya knew he was HIV-positive when he had unprotected sex with three of the boys. If convicted as charged, he faces life in prison.
"He is a menace. He is a parasite on the community. He is not going anywhere," Judge Barbara Zuniga said Tuesday in response to a defense motion to reduce Tafoya's bail from $3.2 million.
According to testimony at an off-and-on preliminary hearing that began in May, Tafoya met the boys by responding to their ads on Craigslist.com and Grindr, a dating phone app for gay and bisexual men. He was a student at Expression College for Digital Arts and working at Pixar Animation Studios at the time of his August 2012 arrest, according to an online resume.
A prosecutor said Tafoya would groom the boys for sex through text messages and travel to them. Sometimes they would have sex in the house of the child's parents, according to testimony. He had sexual relations with a 13-year-old in his car in a church parking lot while others walked by, the boy said on the witness stand.
"He acted as if age was a number; he didn't really care," the boy said while testifying how he had sexual relations with Tafoya the first night they met, when he was in the eighth grade.
One of the boys refused to meet Tafoya in person after he learned Tafoya's age despite ongoing pressure from the defendant, according to police testimony. In that case, Tafoya is charged with contacting a minor for sexual purposes.
Defense attorney Christopher Varnell said Tafoya was not seeking out minors, and the boys initially misrepresented themselves as being over 18. He argued that Tafoya, who has no criminal record, should not be charged with any forcible sex crimes because the sex acts were always consensual.
"When these young men went on these websites, they were looking for sexual gratification, and Mr. Tafoya isn't responsible for that," Varnell said.
Judge Zuniga disagreed. She said the youngest boy testified that he was afraid Tafoya might hurt him if he didn't give him oral sex because he was so much older, and he didn't know him.
Prosecutor Alison Chandler said Tafoya lied to the boys when they asked him whether he had any sexually transmitted diseases, even though he has known since 2009 that he is HIV-positive.
"He never once talked about that he has HIV, and he put all of these 13-, 14-year-old minors at risk," Chandler said.
Tafoya returns to court June 25. Concord police say they believe there are additional victims in the case and ask anyone with information to call Detective Tamra Roberts 925-671-3200.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.