MONTEREY PARK — Sheriff’s officials Thursday asked for the public’s help in identifying at least eight man captured on video sexually assaulting 10 “severely disabled” women at what appears to be residential care facilities.
More than 100 hours of disturbing video footage was dropped off anonymously, along with a note, at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau in March, Sgt. Dan Scott of the Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau said. After months of enhancing and examining the grainy video, detectives decided to go public in hopes of developing leads.
It was unclear when or where the assaults took place, Detective Ron Anderson said, however at least one suspect was believed to be a residential care facility employee, and another appeared to be a patient. The victims appeared “severely disabled” to the point they appeared unable to give consent, let alone fend off the attacks.
“These suspects and their activity is so heinous that it shocks the conscience,” Anderson said.
Even after years investigating sex crimes, “When this (footage) came to me, it was really shocking,” the detective added. “We’re supposed to protect the helpless, and these people are truly helpless.”
Investigators have been able to extract images of the faces of four of the suspects and have created composite drawings from them.
The footage contained no time stamps and nothing to indicate where specifically the crimes took place.
“Detectives from the Special Victims Bureau are concerned that these sexual assaults might still be occurring,” Scott said.
An anonymous tipster left 11 DVDs containing the footage at Sheriff’s Headquarters before vanishing, investigators said.
A note left with the DVDs said that the tipster was approached by a man in Los Angeles who asked if he could erase a computer hard drive, Scott said.
Before deleting the data and returning the hard drive, he said, the tipster discovered the disturbing and criminal nature of the files and copied them onto DVDs.
The victims in the assaults appear to be between 20 and 40 years old, Scott said.
“These victims are severely disabled,” he said, adding that many of them were unable to move and wearing diapers.
Though the assaults could have taken place virtually anywhere, Scott said, “We’re assuming it’s local because it was turned in to the sheriff here.”
Decor and items seen in the videos led detectives to believe that the assaults took place within that past three years or so, investigators said.
Some of the images appear to be taken from surveillance cameras, Scott said, while others appear to have been shot with a handheld camera by accomplices to the assaults.
The videos are believed to be related, and not merely a collection of unrelated scenes, because three of the suspects were seen in the same room, assaulting the same patient, Anderson said.
In one video, he said, one of the suspects can be seen letting another one of the suspects into a patients room, giving detectives the impression he is an employee of the facility where the woman was.
In another video, man in a wheelchair and wearing a diaper is seen entering a room and raping a defenseless patient in her bed.
In some of the videos, the women were treated with force and violence in addition to the sexual assaults. One clip, Anderson said, shows suspects throwing a woman back into her wheelchair after assaulting her.
Detectives want to speak with anyone who can identify the suspects or the facilities shown in the videos, and especially the tipster who dropped off the tapes.
“You have already been a great help by giving us the videos, but we need more help to be able to find the victims,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement targeted at the tipster. The information can be left anonymously through L.A. Crimestoppers.
“We are concerned (the victims) are still being abused and want to find them and ensure they are safe.”
The Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau can be reached at 866-247-5877, or tips can be left anonymously through Crimestoppers at 800-222-8477.