Fullerton junior high school math teacher from La Mirada denies child molestation charges

FULLERTON >> A La Mirada woman accused of molesting three boys she met through the Fullerton junior high school where she taught math pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 10 felony charges, authorities said.
At at arraignment hearing in Orange County Superior Court, Melissa Nicole Lindgren denied five charges of committing lewd acts on a child, two counts of committing lewd acts on a child under 14 and three counts of distributing pornography to a minor, Orange County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Roxi Fyad said. She is also accused of the special allegation of lewd acts on multiple children, which could increase her sentence if convicted.
Lindgren, who remained free on a $100,000 bond, was ordered to return to court June 13 for a pretrial hearing, Fyad said.
She is accused of molesting and trading explicit text messages with three boys, ages 13 to 15, that she met while teaching math at Nicolas Junior High School in Fullerton,
She was reportedly placed on leave from the Fullerton School Disstrict at the outset of the investigation.
The alleged crimes took place during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. She’s accused of molesting two of the boys in a school classroom, and the third off-campus while the two met in a car.
Lindgren traded sexually explicit messages with the three boys, prosecutors allege. She was arrested Feb. 21.
If convicted as charged, Lindgren faces up to 16 years and 4 months in state prison.

UPDATED: Monrovia police seek skateboarding molestation suspect; two women attacked this week

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MONROVIA — Police are seeking a young man with a skateboard believed to have groped two women in Monrovia earlier this week.
The attacks took place 9 p.m. Tuesday in the 700 block of South Fifth Avenue and 4:50 p.m. Wednesday in the 800 block of W. Chestnut Avenue, Monrovia police officials said Thursday in a written statement.
“Both victims described the suspect as a male Hispanic, 16-20 years old, 5 feet 6 inches to five fee 7 inches tall, (of) thin build, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and dark pants,” according to the police statement. “The suspect was in possession of a skateboard in during both incidents.”
During Tuesday’s crime, a woman was walking when the attacker approached her from behind and “hugged her tightly by wrapping his arms around her body,” according to the police statement. “The suspect slapped the victim on the buttocks and then fled the scene on a skateboard.”
In Wednesday’s sexual battery, “A male suspect approached her from behind and reached around her body, grabbed both of her breasts with his hands,” the police statement said. “The suspect commented on the victim’s breast size and kicked her in the leg. He then left the scene with a skateboard in his hand.”
Neither woman reported injuries in connection with the incidents, police said.
Police were working with the two victims to create a composite sketch of the groper, Sgt. Don Newton said.

Nursing attendant accused of molesting patient at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center

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LOS ANGELES >> Investigators Thursday announced the arrest of a hospital worker accused of sexually assaulting a patient at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and reached out to the public to seek any additional potential victims.
Detectives arrested Terance Bobga Tekoh, 25, about 10:20 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of sexual penetration by a foreign object, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
The alleged attack took place earlier in the day in an examination room while a patient was waiting to undergo a medical procedure, Lt. Steve Katz of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau said in a written statement.
Tekoh, a certified nursing attendant employed by Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center contractor Cross Country Per Diem, was assigned to the hospital’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging Department, officials said.
“The suspect has been terminated from hospital employment,” Katz said.
The 600-bed hospital is one of the largest public hospitals in the nation and a hub of the county healthcare system and treats patients from throughout the region.
As detectives and prosecutors prepared their case against Tekoh, they also sought to hear from anyone else who may have had a suspicious encounter with him.
“Detectives are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying any other potential victims who may have been harmed by suspect Tekoh’s conduct,” the lieutenant said.
Tekoh was released from custody Thursday morning on $100,000 bail, booking records show.
He was scheduled to be arraigned April 10 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

UPDATED with suspect SKETCH: Girls flashed near Whittier-area schools

WPD Sketch

WHITTIER >> Officials cautioned the public Thursday about two strikingly similar incidents this week in which two teenage girls were approached by a man who exposed himself to them.
The indecent exposures took place minutes apart early Tuesday near Richard L. Graves Middle School in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier, as well Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe Springs, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
The first encounter took place about 8:30 a.m. at Telegraph Road and Laurel Avenue, around the corner from Graves Middle School, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Navares said.
A 14-year-old girl was walking when a man began following her, he said.
“He exposed himself and was masturbating as she was walking,” Navares said.
When the girl took notice of what was happening, the man fled.
Navares said the girl reported the incident to school police. Officials found a man matching the description, but he bolted from officials and was not found.
About 15 minutes later, police in Santa Fe Springs were notified of a similar encounter two miles away as a female Santa Fe High School student was walking at Florence Avenue and Pioneer Boulevard in Santa Fe Springs, less than a mile from the campus, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“A Santa Fe High student reported to the Whittier (Police Department) school resource officer that a male had exposed himself to her while walking to school,” according to the statement.
The suspect descriptions in the two incidents were consistent, however officials had not yet determined whether both were committed by the same man, Sgt. Jose Navares of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station said.
In both cases, the girls described the man as in his late-20s or 30s, about 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall, with black wavy hair, wearing a white zip-up jacket and blue jeans.
The suspect in the Santa Fe Springs case was described as Latino, while the man involved in the South Whittier case was described by investigators as having a dark complexion.
Detectives from the Whittier Police Department and the sheriff’s Norwalk Station were working together on the case and trying to develop a sketch of the suspect or suspects.
Parents were notified of the situation by the school district officials, authorities said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Whittier Police Department or the sheriff’s Norwalk Station.

SKETCH courtesy of the Whittier Police Department

Pasadena man accused of molesting teenage boy he met online; suspect detained by teen’s parents

PASADENA — The parents of teenage boy arrived home late Saturday to discover a man hiding in their home after allegedly molesting their son, who he met online, police said.
The parents detained Robert Curtis Coleman, 52, of Pasadena until police arrived and arrested him, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said the parents arrived home about 11:50 p.m. in the 100 block of South Oakland Avenue and found a man — later identified as Coleman — hiding inside their home. They detained the intruder and called police, however further details regarding the encounter between the parents and suspect were not immediately available.
“It was later found that the victim, who was a juvenile, had befriended the suspect on the Internet,” Clawson said. “The suspect had gone over to engage in lewd acts with the minor.”
The teenage victim was taken to a hospital for examination, and Coleman was arrested on suspicion of committing lewd acts on a minor.
According to county booking records, Coleman was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
The investigation was ongoing.

Bassett man accused of molesting children, trading in child pornography

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Detectives arrested a Bassett man Thursday on suspicion of molesting at least three young girls as well as distributing and possessing child pornography.
And detectives fear there may be additional victims of 43-year-old Manuel C. Montes not yet known to authorities, Sgt. Peter Hahn of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau said.
Investigators arrested Montes Thursday morning at a Norwalk home after linking him to the possession and distribution of images of child pornography, then discovering what Hahn described as a “trophy room” filled with young girl’s items such as clothes, toys and children’s books.
The illicit pornographic images also indicated that Montes personally committed sex crimes against at least three girls appearing to be between the ages of 10 and 13, the sergeant said.
“We are concerned that if has done this in the past to these three, there may be others that he’s had access to over the years,” Hahn said. He encouraged anyone whose been a victim of a sex crime, whether at the hands of Montes or another, to come forward.
Detectives had identified and interviewed one of the alleged victims, a relative of the suspect, Hahn said. Officials believed they had located the second in Colorado and sent a deputy to meet with her. The third victim seen in the images seized from Montes was not identified.
Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau detectives first learned of Montes in January, when they received a tip via the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children indicating a person by the name of Manuel Montes had uploaded child pornography to the Internet on two separate occasions from a home in the 9900 block of Belmont Street in Bellflower, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Detectives learned that there was a man by that name connected to the home, and that he had previously been arrested, but never convicted, of distributing child pornography about a decade ago, Hahn said. When detectives visited the Bellflower home Tuesday, they learned the house was that of Montes’ girlfriend, and Montes had moved to Bassett a month or two prior.
Detectives immediately went to Montes’ new home, a separate living area housed at a commercial property in the 1800 block of Workman Mill Road in the unincorporated county area of Bassett, according to investigators.
“It was evident that somebody had left just prior to our arrival,” Hahn said.
Inside the home, where Montes’ was believed to live alone, detectives noticed black threads strewn like trip wires, presumably to allow Montes to know if anyone had been in his residence, Hahn said.
“We found hundreds of images of child pornography on both hard drives and on compact disks,” Hahn said. “We confirmed that Mr. Montes did, in fact, live at that location.”
And detectives made another disturbing discovery at Montes’ home; one which the seasoned investigators said they had not seen before.
“We discovered a back room in the location that was filled with child’s paraphernalia: books, diaries, makeup — like a trophy or a treasure room.
The “trophy room” also included collages made from pictures of young girls in various states of undress, Hahn said, as well as diaries in which, “He would write out his fantasies of what he wanted to do to little girls.”
“This is one of the more bizarre cases because of the trophy room,” he said.
Detectives returned to Montes’ Workman Mill Road home Wednesday, again finding that they had apparently just missed him, officials said. They also notes a security camera monitoring the front of the home that had not been there Tuesday.
Though the suspect remained at large Wednesday, deputies found his brother, 46-year-old Lorenzo Montes of Claremont, in the neighborhood and arrested him on suspicion of aiding and abetting Manuel Montes.
The search for Manuel Montes continued, and deputies from the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau found him Thursday morning at a home in the 13000 block of Graystone Avenue in Norwalk, officials said.
“He attempted to flee out the back window,” Hahn said. But he was quickly captured by deputies.
It was not immediately clear what the relationship was between Manuel Montes and the Norwalk home where he was arrested.
Also jailed Thursday on suspicion of aiding and abetting Manuel Montes was his girlfriend, 41-year-old Stacey Marie Oropeza of Bellflower, Hahn said.
Manuel Montes was employed as a grounds keeper in Bassett, Hahn said.
Los Angeles County Superior Court records indicate Manuel Montes was convicted in July, 2004, of domestic violence. He was convicted in July, 2003, of possession of dangerous weapons, and in March of 1992, he was convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent.
According to county booking records, Manuel Montes was being held in lieu of $507,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, while his brother was being held in lieu of $45,000 bail and Oropeza was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.
The Montes brothers were both scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Downey Superior Court, while Oropeza was expected to be arraigned Tuesday in Bellflower Superior Court.
Anyone with information on the case was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273.

Azusa man accused of child molestation captured in Lake Arrowhead

An Azusa man already on probation under AB 109 guidelines was behind bars without bail Wednesday on suspicion of child molestation after investigators tracked him to a San Bernardino County cabin, authorities said.
Robert Santos Arvizu, 41,was booked on suspicion of committing lewd acts on a child about 5 p.m. Tuesday after a multi-agency task force found him hiding out in a cabin in Lake Arrowhead, according to Azusa police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The arrest stemmed from an alleged molestation that took place Sunday, Azusa police Lt. Steve Hunt said.
Few details were released about the alleged incident as police continued investigating and prepared to present their findings to prosecutors, the lieutenant said.
“(Arvizu) had allegedly committed the crime of lewd acts with a child,” police said in a written statement. The gender of the child, described as under 14 years old, was not released Thursday.
The child was not a stranger to the suspect, however investigators declined to discuss their relationship.
Police quickly realized the man they were seeking was on county Post-Release Community Supervision under AB 109 guidelines due to a previous burglary conviction, officials said. Azusa investigators then enlisted the help of the San Gabriel Valley East AB 109 Task Force, a multi-agency group of law enforcement officers charged with keeping tabs on felons released from custody under AB 109 guidelines.
Officials quickly determined Arvizu had provided a false address to his probation officer, officials said.
“They also learned Arvizu quit his job on Monday,” according to the police statement. “He told his employers he had to leave the state.”
Details regarding Arvizu’s job was not available Wednesday, however Hunt said it did not involve children.
Fearing Arvizu was on the run, the task force began hunting for him and located him in Lake Arrowhead within eight hours of joining the search, police said. Officers arrested him without a struggle and turned him over to the Azusa Police Department.
According to county booking records, Arvizu was being held without bail pending his initial appearance in West Covina Superior Court.

Montebello police seek 3 fugitives in unrelated child molestation cases

SUSPECTS

MONTEBELLO — Montebello police sought the public’s help Wednesday in tracking down three longtime fugitives accused of child molestation in three unrelated cases.
All three men, former Montebello residents, have been identified as suspect in the molestations of young girls, Montebello police Detective Sgt. Julio Calleros said.
“Cases have been filed, and warrants have been obtained,” he said. “They know they’re being sought.”
But the suspects remain at-large, even after detectives have scoured the state in search of them, the sergeant said. “We’ve reached a dead end.”
So investigators Wednesday released their images to the public in hopes of generating tips.
Police have been seeking Paul Angel Candelas, 24, since 2011, when he allegedly molested the disabled, 6-year-old daughter of an acquaintance, Calleros said.
Candelas comes from a wealthy family and may be hiding out in the Inland Empire, the sergeant said.
Jose Luis Pineda, 44, is accused of molesting a 7-year-old female relative from 2011 to 2012, when the alleged crimes were discovered, Calleros said.
“(Pineda) possibly drives a gray Nissan Altima with tinted windows,” police said in a written statement. Before his disappeared, he was believed to work nights at the El Rodeo Night Club in Pico Rivera.
Hector Huerta, 30, has been sought by police since last year in connection with the alleged sexual abuse of a now-13-year-old family member between 2007 and 2013, Calleros said.
He is known to work as a mechanic for big rigs, and also as a big rig tire repair man, according to the police statement.
He has ties to Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego and Texas, police said.
Both
Pineda and Huerta are both believed to have ties to Mexico, police added.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Montebello Police Department at 323-887-1313. Anyone who spots one of the fugitives is encouraged to contact local police by calling 9-1-1.

PHOTOS of fugitives Paul Candelas, Jose Pineda and Hector Huerta courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.

Former fire captain from Whittier pleads ‘no contest’ to child molestation

POMONA — A retired fire captain from Whittier pleaded “no contest” Wednesday to charges of molesting a young female relative over the course of two years a decade ago.
Edward John Cervantes, 62, entered the plea at his initial court appearance in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
He was charged with one count of lewd acts upon a child and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child.
Cervantes pleaded “no contest” to both charges, Ardalani said. There was no plea agreement with the prosecution involved.
The molestations took place between 2003 and 2005, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. The victim, a relative of Cervantes, was in the 5th and 6th grades at the time.
Cervantes faces up to 24 years in state prison when he returns to court for sentencing Jan. 27, she said.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators arrested Cervantes Sept. 19, officials said, however he has remained free pending his court appearance after posting $250,000 bail.

Good Samaritan chases down suspect in child molestation at Pomona park

POMONA >> Pomona police arrested a man Tuesday for allegedly touching a child in a sexual manner in a bathroom at a local park.

Kenneth Royce, 20, of Pomona was taken into custody after a bystander chased him down and held him for police about a block away from the park at 865 E. Grand Avenue, police said in a written statement.

Police say the 6-year-old boy was using the bathroom at Washington Park around 5:30 p.m. when Royce is suspected to have touched him…

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