WHITTIER >> A rookie Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy is accused of molesting a 12-year-old girl he met through an online video game over the course of a year, officials said Thursday.
Costa Mesa police, aided by Los Angeles county sheriff’s officials, arrested Jovanni Argueta, 26, of Los Angeles at a sheriff’s training facility in Whittier Wednesday afternoon, Costa Mesa police Lt. Greg Scott said.
Police first began investigating Argueta Oct. 22 after responding to a report of a “suspicious male” seen on the campus of Costa Mesa Middle School, police said in a written statement. The man had left the campus when officers arrived, but was quickly identified as Argueta, a deputy in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Detectives learned that Argueta and the victim, now-13 years old, had met a year earlier via an online fantasy computer game, officials said.
“Over the course of the year, when the female student was 12 years old, Argueta met with her on numerous occasions,” according to the police statement. “Argueta reportedly performed sexual acts with the girl. Argueta would meet the girl both on campus and away from school.”
Scott said Argueta has been a sworn Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy for less than a year.
Argueta was hired by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in August of 2013, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. He was assigned to a men’s jail facility.
“The 26-year-old deputy was immediately relieved of duty, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation,” according to the LASD statement.
“We will be monitoring the criminal proceedings closely and will take appropriate and swift action when the outcome of the judicial process has concluded,” the statement continued.
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department expects all of its members to hold themselves to the highest ethical and professional standards at all times,” according to the statement. “Allegations of this magnitude are disturbing and disappointing. Any proven criminal, or other acts of misconduct that violate public trust will not be tolerated and immediate appropriate remedies will be taken by the Department as permitted by law.”
Argueta was booked on suspicion of child molestation and child annoyance.
Argueta posted $100,000 bail Thursday and was released from jail pending his initial court appearance, according to Orange County booking records.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Costa Mesa Police Department at 714-754-5281. Orange County Crime Stoppers can also be reached anonymously at 855-847-6227.
BOOKING PHOTO of Jovanni Argueta, 26, of Los Angeles courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
POMONA >> A convicted sex offender awaiting trial for the 1981 slaying of a 6-year-old boy pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a second murder charge stemming from the 1986 slaying of a second young boy, authorities said.
Kenneth Kasten Rasmuson, 53, who was living in Idaho when arrested by cold case investigators in March after DNA evidence linked him to the killing of 6-year-old Jeffrey Vargo of Anaheim. Vargo’s body was discovered in Pomona the day after he disappeared while riding his bicycle in Anaheim on July 2, 1981.
After more than 30 years, Rasmuson was linked to the crime by DNA evidence and arrested, Pomona police Lt. Eddie Vasquez said at the time.
As the legal process moved forward in the murder case, DNA evidence linked Rasmuson to another slaying, that of 6-year-old Miguel Antero of Agoura Hills, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials said.
Prosecutors amended the felony complaint already filed against Rasmuson for Vargo’s killing to include Antero’s slaying as well, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
His body was found in a wash on April 8, 1986, the same day he went missing from outside his home, prosectors allege.
He pleaded not guilty to the new charges Wednesday in Pomona Superior Court, officials said. He was ordered back to court for another hearing in the case on Jan. 14.
Rasmuson now stands charged with two counts of murder, along the special circumstances that both killings were committed during the commission of lewd or lascivious acts on children, as well as the special circumstance of multiple murders.
Prosecutors are yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty in the case, or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Rasmuson was previously convicted of sex crimes against children in California in the 1980s.
PHOTO: Kenneth Rasmuson, 53. (courtesy)
A Hacienda Heights high school chemistry teacher admitted molesting two of his students during a court hearing Wednesday, authorities said.
David Park of Chino Hills pleaded guilty in Pomona Superior Court to charges of committing lewd acts on a child and oral copulation of a person under 16, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. He admitted to molesting one former student in 2014, and another in 2011, Ardalani said. Both girls were 15 years old when the abuse started.
Park taught at Los Altos High School at the time of the crimes, and previous worked as a “walk-on” football coach at Ruben. S. Ayala High School in Chino Hills, and taught at Western Christian School in Upland.
Park is expected to receive three years in state prison when he returns to court for sentencing Dec. 3, officials said. He will also be ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Under a negotiated plea deal, four additional charges related to child-molestation are to be dismissed at the sentencing hearing, Ardalani said.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies first arrested Park in February after Hacienda La Puente Unified School District officials first learned of a sexual relationship between Park and a 15-year-old student, investigators said.
As the investigation into the 2014 allegations was ongoing, “A former student came forward and revealed Park had sexually abused her in 2011,” Ardalani said.
ALHAMBRA >> A former South Pasadena High School track coach will avoid time behind bars after pleading no contest to charges of molesting a 16-year-old student, officials said Friday.
Pierre Jonas Hernandez, 33, pleaded “no contest” to misdemeanor charges of child molestation and sexual battery during his trial last week, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Alhambra Superior Court Judge Jon Takasugi sentenced Hernandez Friday to 180 days in jail, to be served by electronic monitoring, five years of summary probation and 30 days of community service, Ardalani said.
Additionally, Hernandez was ordered to register as a sex offender for life, attend 52 seeks of sexual compulsion classes and not contact any of his alleged victim for 10 years.
“According to testimony at trial, a 16-year-old female student came forward in April 2014 and said Hernandez gave her a massage behind a locked door,” Ardalani said. “The massage included inappropriately touching the victim by reaching under her shorts and touching the victim’s buttocks.”
At least one more students made similar allegations once the investigation began, South Pasadena police Detective Mike Palmieri said, but additional charges were not filed as the statue of limitations had expired.
Hernandez had served as track coach at South Pasadena High School for about seven years, police added.
WHITTIER >> A Whittier man faces 24 years in state prison after pleading “no contest” Wednesday to charges related to this ongoing molestation of a 5-year-old family member, authorities said.
Jonathan Javier Ruvalcaba, 29, pleaded no contest to charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child and committing forcible lewd acts on a child during an appearance in Norwalk Superior Court, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
He is scheduled to return to court Oct. 5 for sentencing, when he’s expected to be sentenced to 24 years in state prison, Ardalani said in a written statement.
Ruvalcaba began molesting the young girl in 2010 and continued the abuse for three years, officials said. Investigators learned of the abuse in October of 2013, and arrested Ruvalcaba in May of 2013 following seven months of investigation, Ardalani said.
In addition to his prison term, Ruvalcaba will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
PHOTO of Jonathan Ruvalcaba courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
WHITTIER >> Prosecutors Wednesday declined to file criminal charges against a Whittier man arrested last week on suspicion of child molestation, citing insufficient evidence, authorities said.
Whittier police arrested Joseph Anthony Teixeira, 68, Friday on suspicion of molesting a girl over the course of three years, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
But prosecutors Wednesday reviewed the case and declined to file charges due to “insufficient evidence,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said. Police had sought two charges of committing lewd acts on a child.
In addition to the alleged sex crimes, police also booked Teixeira on suspicion of drug possession after discovering about 150 pounds of marijuana in his home while serving a search warrant, according to the police statement. But no drug-related charges were filed, Risling said.
EL MONTE >> Police arrested an El Monte middle school teacher on suspicion of inappropriate behavior with female students last week, officials confirmed Wednesday.
Police arrested Marcos Miguel Bowers, 45, of Covina Friday on suspicion of committing lewd acts with four underage victims, according to El Monte police officials and Los Angeles County booking records. He posted $100,000 bail and was released from custody three hours later.
The arrest came at the end of a month-long investigation that began April 2, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said in a written statement. Police were notified that Bowers had been involved in “inappropriate physical contact” with a juvenile, Luna said. Bowers was placed on leave at the outset of the investigation.
“The investigation continued, which resulted in the identification of three additional victims,” Luna said. Police described the alleged victims all as juveniles under the age of 17. But the specific ages and genders of the students were not released Wednesday, nor was information regarding whether the alleged victims were students.
Bowers taught math and science teacher at Kranz Intermediate School, according to the school’s website.
Mountain VIew School District officials could not be reached for comment late Wednesday, nor could Bowers.
Bowers was scheduled to appear for arraignment July 9 in Pomona Superior Court, officials said.
EL MONTE >> An El Monte Kung Fu instructor is accused of molesting three students at his Valley Boulevard studio, police said.
Police arrested Derick Lee, 49, of Temple City, Thursday on suspicion of child molestation, child annoyance and false imprisonment, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said late Friday in a written statement.
The investigation into the Kung Fu instructor began early Thursday morning, Luna said.
“El Monte Police Officers received information that a local martial arts instructor from the Elite Kung Fu Training Academy, 10423 Valley Blvd., El Monte, had inappropriate physical contact with a juvenile,” Luna said.
Detectives identified Lee as the suspect in the alleged molestation.
“A follow-up investigation resulted in the identification of two additional victims,” the sergeant said. “All of the assaults were committed against current and former students of Elite Kung Fu Academy and the assaults occurred inside of the business.”
The crimes occurred over the past year, Luna said. Police withheld the genders of the alleged victims, described only as under 17 years old.
Messages seeking comment left with the martial arts school via phone and email were not returned Saturday.
According to the martial arts studios’ website, Lee began instructing Kung Du in 2004, “with only a handful of students practicing at local parks and Sifu Lee’s own home.” Sifu is a respectful Chinese term used to described martial arts instructors.
Lee opened DLee’s Martial Arts in Temple City in 2006 before moving to El Monte in 2012 and renaming the academy Elite Kung Fu, according to the website.
Lee was being held in lieu of $550,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in El Monte Superior Court, county booking records show.
Detectives sought any potential additional victims, and anyone with information regarding the case is asked to contact El Monte police at 626-580-2114.
A Canadian national who fled his home country ahead of his trial on charges of molesting a disabled child in 1980, then was captured living under an assumed identity at a San Dimas mobile home park in 2013, has been returned to Canada to face justice, authorities said Wednesday.
After 35 years as a fugitive, and another two years spent fighting extradition back to Canada, officials returned Raymond Douglas Charles Macleod, 72, to Vancouver late Tuesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said in a written statement.
“For the victim in this case, justice has been a long time coming, but she can take consolation in the fact that her alleged assailant is now being held accountable,” said David Jennings, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in Los Angeles. “I applaud my officers and the ICE attorneys whose perseverance made this happen. We will not allow our country to serve as a safe haven for those who commit reprehensible crimes.”
ICE agents and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies arrested Macleod Oct. 28, 2013, at a mobile home park where he had been living in the 1400 block of Camper View Road in San Dimas, sheriff’s officials said at the time. He was believed to have been living there for at least eight years prior to his arrest.
He’s accused of the 1974 rape of a 5-year-old girl suffering from cerebral palsy, ICE officials said.
After twice attempting unsuccessfully to flee Canada to the U.S. while freed from custody during his initial trial, Macleod was acquitted due to a judge’s error, sheriff’s officials said. He was ordered to appear at a new trial in January of 1980, but disappeared.
After he was recaptured in 2013, a judge ordered Macleod deported to Canada in March of 2014, authorities said.
“Macleod subsequently appealed the judge’s decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,” according to the ICE statement. “Ultimately, both panels concurred with the original ruling, paving the way for this week’s removal.”
PHOTOS courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
WHITTIER >> A Whittier chiropractor is accused of sexually assaulting two female patients who he treated at his home in recent months, police said.
Investigators arrested Steven Patrick Lowry, 31, of Whittier about 9:40 a.m.Wednesday at the Whittwood Town Center on suspicion of sexual battery, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Police arrested Lowry as he was on his way to work, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said.
Police declined to identify what business Lowry works at, however his online resume lists him as an employee of The Joint, a chiropractic practice within the mall.
But both of the alleged incidents of inappropriate contact took place at Lowry’s home, “where he conducted some of his business,” Whittier police said in a written statement.
The alleged crimes occurred within “recent months,” Scoggins said. The alleged victims were in their mid-20s and early-30s.
Further details regarding the allegations against Lowry were not available Wednesday.
Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to contact Whittier police Detective Brenna Dineen at 562-567-9283.
According to officials and county booking records, he was being held in lieu of $40,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment hearing Friday.
PHOTO of Steven Lowry courtesy of the Whittier Police Department.