LAS VEGAS, NEVADA >> A former San Gabriel Mission High School athletic director received a sentence of at least two years in prison this week for absconding to Nevada with a 15-year-old then-student, officials said.
Juan Barajas, 37, received a sentence of 24 month to 72 months in state prison during his sentencing hearing on Tuesday in the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, according to Clark County Deputy District Attorney Alexander Chen. Barajas must serve a minimum of 24 months behind bars before becoming eligible for parole, he explained. The maximum amount of time he will spend behind bars in Nevada is six years.
Additionally, Barajas will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Chen said.
Police found Barajas with the teenage Pico Rivera girl and arrested him on Aug. 2 in Henderson, Nevada, officials said.
The man and girl had been missing since July 29, when they fled after the girl’s family learned of their inappropriate and illegal relationship. The girl had been a student at the school, a private Catholic high school operated by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
A Henderson police officer spotted Barajas and the girl hours after Los Angeles Police, who handled the investigation, asked the public for help in finding the missing teen and suspect.
He pleaded guilty in November to a single count of statutory sexual seduction,
Following his arrest, prosecutors initially charged Barajas with first-degree kidnapping, sexual assault of a minor under 16, lewdness with a minor under 16, statutory sexual seduction and committing a sex act in public, authorities said. If convicted as charged, could have faced between 20 and 50 years in state prison.
PHOTO of Juan Barajas (courtesy)
BALDWIN PARK >> Police arrested a man at a Baldwin Park in-home day care center on suspicion of child molestation on Sunday, authorities said.
Few details were initially released as detectives continued gathering information and seeking possible additional victims, Baldwin Parkp police Sgt. David Leon said.
Detectives arrested the suspect Sunday morning at his home, which also operated as a day care center, in the 4200 block of Benham Avenue, the sergeant said. His identity was not released Sunday afternoon due to the active investigation.
It was not clear if the suspect worked or operated the in-home day care center, or merely lived there.
Investigators also served a search warrant at the home and recovered items of evidence, he said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Baldwin Park police Detective Carmen Chice at 626-960-1955, ext. 439.
A judge sentenced a Pico Rivera man to nearly 40 years in state prison for extorting 21 underage girls in eight states into sending him nude pictures online, authorities said.
Cesar Mauricio Estrada-Davila, also known as Cesar Estrada, 20, pleaded “no contest” on Wednesday to 38 felony charges, including 21 counts of distributing or showing child pornography to a minor, 16 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of committing a lewd act on a child, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said in a written statement.
At his sentencing on Friday in the Antelope Valley branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Estrada received a prison term of 39 years and 8 months. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
“According to testimony at the preliminary hearing, Estrada reached out to young girls and befriended them on social media websites between January and April, 2015,” Santiago said. “The defendant told the victims he was a modeling agent who could make them famous online.
“Estrada then asked the victims to send him pictures of themselves in their underwear,” according to Santiago. “Once the defendant received the images, he would tell the girls he was going to send the photos to their friends and family if they did not send nude photos.”
Prosecutors filed charges in connection with 21 victims between the ages of 12 and 17 in the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Texas, Michigan, Washington, Colorado and Florida.
The investigation began after a 14-year-old Antelope Valley girl who reported the online extortion to her father, who in turn contacted police, sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Meyer said shortly after Estrada’a arrest.
Detectives searched Estrada’s home in the 8300 block of Rosemead Boulevard in Pico Rivera, where they found more than 26,000 pages of online and text conversations between Estrada and his victims, Meyer added. All of the victims were Latina girls, and many told investigators they had been living in fear of Estrada.
Estrada was initially charged with more than 150 crimes and could have received multiple life sentences if convicted at trial, prosecutors said.
The case was investigated by detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau.
PHOTO of Cesar Mauricio Estrada-Davila courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
EL MONTE >> A wrestling coach from an El Monte high school initially arrested on suspicion of carrying on a sexual relationship with one underage female student denied 20 sex crime charges after the allegations expanded to include a total of three students in crimes dating back to 2015, authorities said.
Part-time Arroyo High School wrestling coach David Vaca, 21, of West Covina pleaded not guilty to seven counts of oral copulation of a person under 18, six counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, six counts of penetration by a foreign object involving a minor and one count of sodomy on a person under 16 years old, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
El Monte police arrested Vaca Wednesday after learning of allegations of a sexual relationship between him and a 16-year-old female student between December of 2016 and January, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said. He initially accused of four felony sex crimes.
But as the investigation continued, prosecutors added two additional victims to the case, along with additional criminal charges.
“At separate times, the defendant allegedly had sexual relationships with three female students from the high school between June 1, 2015, and Jan. 28, 2017,” Ardalani said in a written statement.
Prosecutors requested bail be set at $965,000. He was initially held in lieu of $60,000 bail following his arrest Wednesday.
After entering his plea on Friday, Vaca was scheduled to return to Pomona Superior Court on Feb. 21 for a pre-preliminary hearing, court officials said.
Anyone with information can reach El Monte police at 626-580-2110. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO of David Vaca, 21, of West Covina courtesy of the El Monte Police Department.
EL MONTE >> Police jailed a part-time wrestling coach at Arroyo High School on Wednesday on suspicion of carrying on a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl, authorities said.
David Vaca Jr., 21, of West Covina is accused of four felonies related to child molestation, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said in a written statement. And detectives were seeking any possible additional victims.
“Between December 2016 and January 2017, the suspect, David Vaca, engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female victim,” Luna said. “The crimes occurred at various locations in the cities of El Monte and South El Monte.”
Vaca works as a part-time wrestling coach at Arroyo High School in El Monte, Luna said. It was unclear late Wednesday whether the alleged victim was a student at the campus.
Vaca was being held in lieu of $60,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, county booking records show.
Anyone with information is asked to contact El Monte police at 626-580-2114, or via email at email@example.com. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO of David Vaca Jr. courtesy of the El Monte Police Department
SAN GABRIEL >> Police arrested a 37-year-old San Gabriel man on Tuesday after learning of allegations that he had sexually abused a young female relative over the past five years, officials said.
Jcelso Celestino Ombao was booked on suspicion of continuous sexual abuse of a child, as well as other sex-crime related felonies, according to San Gabriel police Lt. Brian Kott.
Police launched their investigation just before 2 p.m. Tuesday after receiving a report from staff at Temple City High School that a 15-year-old female student had been the victim sexual abuse, the lieutenant said.
“During the initial investigation, the victim divulged to officers that she had been sexually abused by an adult male family relative on a frequent and repeated basis within the family home for approximately the past give years,” Kott said in a written statement.
The alleged crimes took place at several home throughout the region, where the family had lived, as well as in San Gabriel in recent months.
Police arrested Ombao and obtained a warrant to search the family home, Jott said. “Evidence was collected that corroborated the victim’s account.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact San Gabriel police at 626-308-2828. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SOUTH WHITTIER >> Deputies jailed an El Monte man this week after showed up in South Whittier to meet who he believed was a 15-year-old girl for sex, but was instead greeted by detectives, officials said.
Pedro Ivan Reyes-Peralta, 21, was booked on suspicion of arranging a meeting with a juvenile for a lewd act or purpose, and contacting a minor to commit a sex crime, following his arrest on Wednesday, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
(Reyes-Peralta) began communicating with an undercover detective on Tuesday, after he posted a Craigslist ad seeking sex,” Lt. Kent Wegener of the sheriff’s Human Trafficking Bureau said in a written statement. “The detective was posing as a 15 year-old girl and it was made clear that she was under age.”
After additional online communication, Reyes-Peralta arranged a meeting in South Whittier, Wegener said. He was arrested upon arrival.
“The suspect implicated himself during subsequent questioning,” the lieutenant added.
Sgt. Peter Hahn offered some words of caution for parents.
“Social media sites can be very hazardous places for minors. “Predators are actively seeing juveniles to exploit and victimize, since they believe they are hidden by the anonymous nature of the internet,” he said. “Parents are reminded to actively monitor the internet activity of their children, to prevent anyone from taking advantage of them.”
Reyes-Peralta was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.
LOS ANGELES >> A Whittier man a denied charges related to the alleged repeated molestation of a 7-year-old girl who was a student at the Commerce aquatics center where he worked as a swim coach.
Steven Matthew Garcia pleaded not guilty to six felony county of committing a lewd act upon a child, Los Angeles County District attorney’s officials said. He was ordered back to Los Angeles Superior Court on Feb. 1 for a preliminary hearing setting.
Garcia is accused of fondling a 7-year-old student of the center on multiple occasions in recent months, while he worked as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at Brenda Villa Aquatic Center in Commerce, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
“Detectives conducting the investigation subsequently arrested Suspect Garcia, a resident of Whittier, on Friday, January 13, 2017, for multiple counts of lewd acts and continuous sexual abuse of a minor,” Navarro-Suarez said in a written statement.
Prosecutors filed their case Wednesday. Garcia is being held in lieu of $600,000 bail.
Detectives from the sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau reached out to the public in search of additional information, or any possible additional victims of the suspect, the deputy added.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau can be reached at 877-710-5273. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
BOOKING PHOTOS of Steven Matthew Garcia courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
COMMERCE >> Prosecutors filed six felony charges on Wednesday against a swimming coach from Whittier accused of repeatedly molesting a 7-year-old girl at the Commerce aquatic center where he worked, officials said.
Steven Matthew Garcia, 27, was charged with six counts of committing a lewd act upon a child in Los Angeles County Superior Court, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling.
He entered no plea, as his arraignment hearing was postponed until Thursday, he said.
“Garcia is accused of fondling a 7-year-old girl in an employee lounge at an aquatic center on several occasions,” Risling said in a written statement. “After each incident, he allegedly threatened the victim, ordering her not to tell anyone.”
The alleged crimes took place between October and this month, officials said
Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau, who handled the investigation, arrested Garcia on Friday afternoon, according to county booking records. He was being held in lieu of $750,000 bail.
If convicted as charged, Garcia faces up to 14 years in state prison.
LOS ANGELES >> A previously convicted child sex predator from Norwalk who traveled to Cambodia for sex with at least five boys received a sentence of more than two decades in federal prison this week, authorities said.
Erik Leonardus Peeters, 48, received a 22-year prison term in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday after pleading guilty in 2012 to two counts of engaging in illicit sexual contact with a minor in a foreign place, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder also ordered Peeters to pay $15,000 in restitution to his victims, officials said. Upon his release from prison, he will be subject to supervised release for life.
“This defendant is a sexual predator who repeatedly victimized young boys, several of whom have physical disabilities, and all of whom come from deeply impoverished communities in the developing world,” according to U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker.”This lengthy sentence sends a message to all pedophiles in the United States that they cannot escape prosecution by traveling to other countries to engage in illegal and horrific sexual acts against children.”
Peeters was already a registered sex offender, convicted of crimes against young boys in 1990, when he visited Southeast Asia, according to federal prosecutors and California’s sex offender database.
“According to court documents filed in this case, Peeters traveled to Cambodia in April 2008, and within two months began seeking out youths for sex, targeting victims who were destitute and often disabled,” Mrozek said.
Cambodian National Police arrested him in February of 2009 for violating Camobian laws against child sex abuse, according to Mrozek.
U.S. prosecutors subsequently filed charges of engaging in sexual conduct with minors in a foreign country, authorities said. He was returned to the U.S. to face the American justice system in August of 2009.
Four of Peeters’ victims appeared at his sentencing hearing Wednesday to tell the court how his abuse had affected their lives, Mrozek said.
According to California’s sex offender database, Peeters was convicted in 1990 of committing lewd or lascivious acts on a boy under 14 years old. Records indicate he was released from jail or prison the same year.
“Peeters is the third and final defendant sentenced as part of Operation Twisted Traveler, a joint initiative by (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations) and the Department of Justice to identify and prosecute American men who traveled to Cambodia and engaged in sexual conduct with children there,” Mrozek said. “The defendants were charged under the PROTECT Act, which took effect in 2003 and substantially strengthened the federal laws related to predatory crimes involving children outside the U.S. by adding new crimes and increasing prison sentences.”
Two other men have received prison sentences of 70 years and 10 years, respectively, in connection with the operation.
Special Agent in Charge of HSI in Los Angeles Joseph Macias credited the law enforcement officials who investigated and prosecuted the cases for their “tenacity and tireless dedication.”
“Americans tempted to commit sex crimes overseas should understand that tough U.S. laws will ensure they pay a high price for their criminal actions,” he said. “We owe it to the young victims, many of whom will bear the emotional scars for the rest of their lives.”
PHOTO: Erik Leonardus Peeters, 48, of Norwalk. (courtesy)