A jury late last week acquitted a Whittier physician accused of inappropriately touching female patients during medical exams, authorities said.
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said Steve Vouis, 67, was acquitted Friday on three counts of sexual battery by fraud.
Vouis was originally charged with six molestation counts involving five victims, however three of the charges were dismissed by the judge after the jury failed to a reach a verdict, deadlocking heavily toward acquittal, said his attorney, Jennifer Keller.
“He’s pleased and relieved, but his life has been really ruined by this,” Keller said.
“His practice that he spent the last 30 yeas building is destroyed,” the attorney said. ““He’ll never get his good name back. It’s not possible for it to have a truly happy ending, but we’re truly grateful that the right thing happened in court.”
Authorities said the alleged molestations occurred between 2007 and 2009 at his offices in Whittier and La Mirada. Three women testified at Vouis’ preliminary hearing that the doctor inappropriately touched them during breast or gynecological examinations.
Devoted colleagues and patients supported Vouis throughout the legal process, Keller said.
She said she did not know if he would again be able to open a practice, adding that, “There’s many patients who hope he will.”
Keller declined to comment on why she believed the five women made allegations against Vouis in the first place.
Evidence presented at trial showed two of them had already filed civil suits against the doctor, she said.
Another one of the accusers has been receiving benefits from the county due to her alleged status as a crime victim, Keller said. But the woman did not make her accusation until more than three years after the alleged incident, after other victims had accused Vouis of misconduct during examinations.
But despite being cleared in the eyes of the law, the doctor’s life is forever changed, Keller said.
“This has taken an enormous toll on him,” she said. “It’s a really sad situation, because he is an innocent man.”
Vouis’ trial began March 21 in Norwalk Superior Court.
Whittier police arrested Vouis March 17, 2010, after learning of allegations. He pleaded not guilty the at an arraignment the following day and was released on $125,000 bail pending trial.
COVINA — Officials are seeking a man who molested a woman outside her apartment complex late Wednesday.
The incident, which police are investigating as a sexual battery and false imprisonment case, occurred just after 10 p.m. in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 1900 block of East Cienega Avenue, Covina police Sgt. Ray Marquez said.
A 25-year-old woman exited the apartment complex to move her car and noticed a man standing nearby in the parking lot, the sergeant said.
“As she entered her vehicle, he ran toward her from behind and placed his arms around her and sexually battered her,” Marquez said. The man placed his hand over the woman’s mouth.
There was a struggle. The female managed to get away,” Marquez said.
The woman was “very scared,” however not injured, he said.
Police described the attacker as a Latino man in his early-20s, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and 175 pounds. He wore a black hooded sweat shirt and dark-colored jeans.
No getaway car was seen, and the man was last seen heading east on Cienega Avenue, Marquez said.
Anyone with information can reach Covina police at 626-384-5595.
Accused pedophile Wade Bughman’s defense attorney today will tell a Pasadena Superior Court jury that his client didn’t molest students at a Duarte elementary school.
Prosectuors told a different story on Tuesday. Here’s what Brenda Gazzar reported.
Closing arguments began Tuesday for the trial of Wade Bughman of Monrovia, 43, who was charged with crimes of a sexual nature against five girls over a period of 15 years while he taught at Beardslee Elementary School in Duarte.
The nine counts against Bughman include oral copulation of a person under 14, the crime of continual sexual abuse, forcible rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object and lewd acts upon a child.
With enlarged photos of the five young girls smiling behind her, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Debra Archuleta told jurors the girls endured physical, emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of a pedophile that robbed them of their innocence.
Many of the girls were shy or submissive and some sat in the back of the classroom, she said. They were allegedly molested at lunch, during recess or after school in the “Think Together Program.”
Some of the girls in his class called him “rapist” and had code words to warn others they needed help, Archuleta said. She described Bughman as a “practiced and skilled manipulator” in satisfying his own lusts and desires.
EL MONTE – A former assistant high school wrestling coach who ran a children’s wrestling program in Rosemead will be arraigned Friday in El Monte Superior Court on charges he sexually molested two boys, officials said.
Herbert Daniel Ortizmonroy, also known as Herbert Daniel Ortiz, was arrested at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico and deported back to California this week, according to Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office.
The 29-year-old Baldwin Park man is a U.S. citizen. His bail is $1 million.
Gibbons said Ortiz was charged last month with three counts of lewd acts upon a child and two of oral copulation of a person under the age of 16.
The criminal complaint alleged the crimes occurred between 2008 and 2010 and involved a 14-year-old victim. One of the molestation charges refers to a 2002 incident when the second victim was under 14, officials said.
Gibbons said the case came to light when one of the victims ran across Ortiz’s account on Facebook, then made a made a video incorporating some of the Facebook material.
The other victim’s mother saw the video on YouTube.
Ortiz was an assistant wrestling coach at Rosemead High School from 2007 to 2009, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. At least one of the accusers was on the wrestling team during that time.
Ortiz founded the Bad News Panthers Kids’ Wrestling Program in Rosemead in 2010, and has worked their as coach and program director since, according to sheriff’s investigators and the program’s website.
- Staff report
LA HABRA — A La Habra man was behind bars Friday on suspicion of molesting a young girl earlier this week, officials said.
Jesus Navarro, 37, was arrested Wednesday and booked on suspicion of committing a lewd act with a child under 14 and indecent exposure, La Habra police spokeswoman Cindy Knapp said.
Officers were summoned to a residential neighborhood in the 400 block of South Bedford Street about 11 a.m. after the girl told her mother about the abuse, and the mother notified authorities, Knapp said.
Investigators interviewed and ultimately arrested Navarro in connection with the alleged crimes.
According to Orange County booking records, Navarro was being held without bail pending his scheduled arraignment Friday in Santa Ana Superior Court.
GLENDORA — Police arrested a Covina man on suspicion of molesting a woman inside a store Wednesday, officials said.
Lance Glock, 51, was booked on suspicion of sexual battery following the 10:15 a.m. incident at HomeGoods, 1239 S. Lone Hill Avenue, Glendora police Lt. Rob Lamborghini said.
A woman in her 30s was shopping in the store when Glock came up behind her, put his arms around her and sexually battered her, the lieutenant said.
The woman reported the incident to police, who located and stopped a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck matching the description given by the victim about five miles away, Lamborghini said.
Officers arrested the drive once the woman identified the driver as the man who battered her, he added.
Glock was booked at te Glendora Police Department’s jail, where he was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
A 5th grade teacher was arrested Monday for alleged sexual misconduct with a child.
Roger Talley, 53, of Upland, was arrested and booked at the West Valley Detention Center on suspicion of one count of lewd acts on a child and on one count of criminal threats, according to a Chino police news release.
Talley, who worked at Walnut Elementary in the Chino Valley Unified School District, had been the focus of a two-week investigation, officials said.
During that time. Chino police detectives spoke with current and former students of the suspect, who was placed on leave from the school district on Feb. 10, according to the news release.
Anyone with information about the incident can call police Detective Ted Olden at 909-464-0745.
- Staff report
EAST LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors Wednesday charged an East Los Angeles soccer coach with molesting a 15-year-old player as detectives investigate allegations made by a second teenager against the longtime coach, authorities said.
Javier Arrioja, 48, of East Los Angeles pleaded not guilty Wednesday to four counts of lewd acts on a minor and one count of sending harmful matter, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s and court officials said.
The alleged molestations took place between May and November of 2011.
He was arrested without incident Feb. 17 at his home in the 100 block of Townsend Avenue in East Los Angeles, Sgt. Peter Hahn of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau said.
“The lewd acts were alleged to have occurred in the suspect’s car in Obregon Park in East Los Angeles, and in the coach’s home in East Los Angeles,” the sergeant added.
Arrioja coaches soccer for a private soccer club called, “Missioneros,” for boys under 17, according to investigators.
“He has coached boys and girls soccer teams in the Los Angeles area for over 15 years,” Hahn said.
The investigation revealed a second possible victim, a 14-year-old boy, “who reported similar lewd acts committed by the suspect,” Hahn said. “The second case is still under investigation.”
According to county booking records, Arrioja was being held without bail due to a hold placed on him by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and was next scheduled to appear in East Los Angeles Superior Court for a preliminary hearing March 5.
“Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau detectives believe it is possible there are additional victims and urge anyone who may have been a victim to contact investigators,” Hahn said. Anyone with information is asked to contact Special Victims Bureau detectives by calling 877-710-5273 or sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
Tips can also be left anonymously be calling L.A. Crimestoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO of Javier Arriojo courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
WEST COVINA – A Walnut Grove Middle School teacher has been arrested on suspicion of carrying on an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old student, authorities said Saturday.
Devin White, 33, is suspected of lewd acts with a minor and possessing “obscene matter,” West Covina police Lt. Richard Bell said.
He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the West Covina Police Department’s jail, according to county booking records.
Police were alerted about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the lieutenant said.
“The principal received information of an inappropriate relationship between the suspect, a 33-year-old male teacher, and a 13-year-old (female) student,” Bell said.
“The investigation revealed that there was possible evidence of a relationship, and that that relationship may have been since May of this year,” Bell said.
Detectives searched White’s home, and according to booking records, he was arrested about 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
School officials sent a letter home with students Friday afternoon regarding the arrest. West Covina Unified School District officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.
WHITTIER – Three women testified Wednesday that a local doctor sexually assaulted them during breast and gynecological exams at offices in Whittier and La Mirada.
Dr. Steve Vouis, 65, is accused of six counts of sexual battery by fraud. The alleged assaults took place between 2007 and 2009 and involved five victims.
At the first portion of a preliminary hearing in Whittier Superior Court, three women took the witness stand to describe their encounters with the doctor. The hearing is expected to conclude Oct. 12.
Vouis pleaded not guilty to the allegations. He was freed after posting $125,000 bail. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Heba Matta.
All three women, who are in their 20s and 30s, testified that Vouis inappropriately touched their nipples during breast examinations. Two of the women said he also molested them during vaginal examinations.
A 33-year-old alleged victim, identified only as Mary R. to protect her privacy, told of her experiences with the doctor when she went to his Whittier office in June 2007 for a gynecological appointment.
She said the doctor squeezed her nipples and made sexual comments about them while examining her.
During a vaginal exam, she testified that the doctor’s touching went far beyond what she had experienced in previous exams.
When she told Vouis that he was hurting her, she testified, “he ripped off my gown, threw it on the floor.”
At that point, Mary R. testified, she stopped the exam and left the office.
Jennifer Keller, the attorney representing Vouis, pointed out inconsistencies between what Mary R. testified in court, and what she wrote in notes taken the day of the appointment.
Vouis declined to comment outside the courtroom Wednesday.
Another alleged victim, identified in court as Yesica Y., told a story similar to Mary R.
The defense attorney asked Yesica Y. if she was angry over other issues, such as a billing dispute. She said she was not.
Keller also questioned why Yesica Y. allowed the exam to continue even after alleged inappropriate behavior.
Yesica Y. said she feared for her safety and her life.
Alleged victim Wendy Z. took the stand to talk about an April 2009 appointment with the doctor.
She said she became “very uncomfortable” when the doctor asked about her boyfriend.
Keller also highlighted differences between Wendy Z.’s testimony Wednesday and what she had written down shortly after the incident. Keller also asked her why she did not end the exam and leave at the first signs of impropriety.
Keller asked all the witnesses if they’ve filed lawsuits against Vouis.
When the preliminary hearing is completed next week, Whittier Superior Court Judge Cathryn Brougham will make a ruling on whether sufficient evidence has been presented to order Vouis to stand trial.