APTOS – A Watsonville man charged with several counts of sexual assault on minors is associated with a local deli franchise store, an authority revealed Friday.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office arrested Carlos Gomez Velasco, 39, on Wednesday. Gomez Velasco’s alleged victims include three minors who worked at his Erik’s DeliCafe in Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center in Aptos, according to Santa Cruz County Assistant District Attorney Kristal Salcido. Each of the alleged assaults reportedly took place at the restaurant, she said.
Gomez Velasco, who has been released from jail on a bond, is scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing Tuesday morning in Santa Cruz County Superior Court. He is facing one misdemeanor and nine felony charges from several listed dates in 2020 and 2021, according to court records. The felonies include four counts of sexual battery, three counts of communicating with a minor for a lewd act and two counts of oral copulation of a person under 18 years.
The Sentinel in 2018 reported that Gomez Velasco and wife Vicky Gomez took over operations of the Erik’s DeliCafe after the shopping center underwent a major renovation. The eatery was the first to move back into the shopping center’s new food court at the time. According to the Erik’s Delicafé website, the prior iteration of the restaurant had been at Rancho Del Mar since 1977 and was the company’s third store in the chain.
Brian Johnson, president and general counsel for Erik’s DeliCafé Franchises Inc., described Gomez Velasco as an employee of Vicky Gomez’s, rather than the business’ co-owner. However, a business directory on the Aptos Chamber of Commerce website on Friday continued to list “Carlos Gomez” as the sole member name associated with the business.
“We are aware of the charges and Carlos, an employee of Erik’s DeliCafe of Aptos, has been put on leave,” Johnson wrote Friday in an emailed response to a Sentinel inquiry. “We are taking the charges seriously and staying up to date on all available information. As the situation develops, we are working with Vicky, the owner and franchisee, and her team.”
The Aptos Erik’s Deli franchise store was registered by agent Virginia Hernandez Aquino to owner CGVH Restaurants LLC in 2018.
Police investigators are seeking information related to other potential sexual assault victims.
“He worked for Erik’s Deli for approximately 20 years. He worked in multiple branches,” Salcido said. “We have three named victims so far. We are extremely concerned that there are other victims, based off of what happened to the minors.”
Salcido urged community members with information related to the case to contact Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office detective Sgt. Zach West at 831-454-7645.