Onetime UFC lightweight contender Hermes Franca now sits in an Oregon jail after turning himself into authorities.
Franca stands accused of sexually abusing a female minor at a jiu-jitsu academy in Clackamas, Ore., where he once taught. He turned himself into the Clackamas County Jail on Monday.
At an arraignment hearing on Tuesday, Franca plead not guilty to seven counts of sex abuse in the first degree and two counts of unlawful sexual penetration in the second degree. His bail has been set at $250,000.
Each of the charges against Franca carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 75 months, Chief Deputy District Attorney Greg Horner of the Clackamas County District Attorney's office today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
Horner said Franca has been "cooperative" with the District Attorney's office.
A release hearing for Franca is set for Friday, and his counsel is expected to ask for a reduction of his bail. He has retained a Portland-based lawyer, Ryan Corbridge, to represent him.
"We adamantly deny these allegations and want to point out that he's innocent until proven guilty," Corbridge said today.
A July 12 date has been set for Franca's trial, though Horner expressed doubts that the date would hold.
"It's unlikely that a case of this significance would go to trial this quickly," he said.
Franca was scheduled on June 10 to fight Drew Ficket for the Maximum Fighting Championships lightweight belt, but MFC president Mark Pavelich said he is releasing Franca "immediately" from his contract and wound find a new opponent by midnight tonight.
Franca (21-11) made 11 appearances in the UFC and was released from the promotion shortly after a knockout loss to Tyson Griffin at UFC 103. His career highlight came at UFC 73 when he fought Sean Sherk for the lightweight title and lost by unanimous decision.
News of Franca's arrest was first reported by Examiner.com overnight.