Jury selection got under way today for the trial of a former Temecula dentist accused of having sexual relations with two girls he coached in gymnastics.
Dr. David Martinus Reiakvam, 44, could face more than 50 years in prison if convicted of 13 counts of lewd acts on a child under 15 and two counts of oral copulation of a child under 18.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Ronald Taylor today summoned the first panel of prospective jurors to his courtroom at the Riverside Historic Courthouse for screening as to their availability and qualifications.
Another panel of prospects is slated to be called to the courthouse tomorrow. Opening arguments in the trial could begin before week's end.
Reiakvam, meanwhile, remains free on $200,000 bail.
The defendant allegedly molested and engaged in sex acts with girls he taught at the Empire Acro Gym on Market Street and a separate facility near Vine Street and Mission Inn Avenue, both in Riverside.
The two alleged victims, who are now in their mid-20s, lived with Reiakvam and his then-wife Sherry at their Riverside home, according to Deputy District Attorney Debra Postil, the original prosecutor in the case.
Riverside police Detective Laura Ellefson, who testified at the defendant's October 2011 preliminary hearing, said the first girl alleged Reiakvam had intimate contact with her during bedside chats, when he would come into her room and play the "touching game."
According to Ellefson, Reiakvam's interaction with the girl escalated into alleged oral copulation and frequent fondling between 1998 and 2000, eventually leading to "full-blown" sexual intercourse on a regular basis when the girl was 15 years old.
The other girl was allegedly molested beginning at age 13, when Reiakvam came into her room at night to fondle her, according to testimony. That allegedly occurred between 2000 and 2002.
According to Postil, one alleged victim maintained a sexual relationship with Reiakvam into adulthood.
Reiakvam, who began practicing dentistry in 1998, failed to renew his dental license earlier this year. The Dental Board of California had placed restrictions on his practice in January 2011, prohibiting him from accepting patients under 18 years old until the criminal charges were resolved.