A Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office deputy provided details last week regarding her investigation into child molestation allegations against a Mariposa man.
Deputy Jennifer Lobaugh was called to the stand at Mariposa Superior Court to testify in the preliminary court hearing of John Leonard Appling. She told of allegations from a young girl that Appling had molested her over a series of months, and, at one point, put his penis in her mouth.
Appling, 45, was present in court. He has been charged under California Penal Code 288(A), which is defined as lewd and lascivious acts on a minor under the age of 14, and has also been charged under California Penal Code 288(C)(1), which is lewd and lascivious acts on a minor ages 14 or 15.
Lobaugh is the deputy who was called to Watt Road in Mariposa County on July 5 to investigate a family dispute between 11 family members.
While there, she spoke to the 14-year-old alleged victim, who told Lobaugh that Appling — her uncle — had been abusing her over the past year.
“She was visibly upset,” said Lobaugh. “She stated he had been touching her inappropriately.”
After serving time in prison, Appling was released on Jan. 8, 2017. He soon went to live with the alleged victim’s family.
One of the first instances of alleged abuse, Lobaugh said, was when the victim — at that time age 13 — and her mother were transporting Appling to a bar in Oakhurst.
The girl was sitting in the front passenger seat of the vehicle, with Appling seated behind her. Appling allegedly tried to slide his foot through the cushion of the seat to touch the girl inappropriately.
Over the ensuing months, Appling allegedly continued to abuse the victim.
While staying at the home, Appling apparently slept in the same room as the victim. In multiple instances, the victim reported waking, only to find Appling caressing her thigh and buttocks.
“She stated she was scared,” Lobaugh said.
The alleged victim eventually moved to her mother’s bedroom.
In May of 2018, the girl allegedly awakened after Appling was caressing her breasts in addition to her thigh and buttocks.
The abuse came to a head, however, in June of 2018, the last apparent instance of abuse, according to Lobaugh.
This abuse took place in Madera County. Appling allegedly drove the girl to the Bass Lake area, telling her that he didn’t want her siblings to come along because they “annoyed him.”
Appling allegedly purchased alcohol for the minor, Lobaugh said, and after using it, she “had a moment she blacked out.”
She apparently regained her faculties, only to find Appling trying to place an unknown pill in her mouth.
The alleged victim bit him, and Appling struck her.
Appling allegedly continued to drive the victim to various locations near Bass Lake, rubbing her private parts throughout the evening. At one point, he removed her swimming suit straps and pulled her bottoms off.
Eventually, the victim alleges that Appling put his flaccid penis in her mouth.
Lobaugh said she questioned Appling and he said he went swimming with his niece on the evening in question.
Defense attorney Wayne Green then questioned Lobaugh, asking her if Appling removed the girl’s swimsuit while he was driving.
Lobaugh answered that it was her understanding that Appling had removed it while driving.
At the end of the court hearing, Judge Michael Fagalde said there was “sufficient evidence” to hold Appling to account for all of the charges against him.
Appling remains in custody in the Mariposa County Adult Detention Facility for the charges.
Fagalde set the next hearing for July 31. Bail remains at $100,000.