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.
INDUSTRY >> Deputies are seeking a man for questioning in connection with the molestation of a 9-year-old boy at the Puente Hills Mall in Industry earlier this month, officials said.
The crime took place about 6:45 p.m. on July 8 at the mall, 1600 S. Azusa Ave., Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“A 9-year-old old boy reported that he was inappropriately touched by a male adult while he was inside the Puente Hills Mall,” Schrader said. “The assault was reported to mall security shortly after the incident occurred.”
Investigators have since obtained a surveillance camera image of a person of interest, and asked the public’s help in tracking him down.
He’s described as a Latino man, about 35 to 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall. He was balding with black-and-gray hair, clean-shaven and wore a blue shirt.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A judge sentences a 34-year-old Santa Fe Springs man to 10 years in prison Wednesday for sexually molesting a 5-year-old girl at his mother’s home-based child care business more than a decade ago, authorities said.
Robert Andres Martinez pleaded “no contest” in May to two felony charges: committing forcible lewd acts on a child and committing lewd acts on a child, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Prosecutors charged Martinez with child sex crimes in January following an investigation by the Whittier Police Department.
In addition to his prison term, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Porras also ordered Martinez to register as a sex offender for life during the sentencing in the Norwalk courthouse, Ardalani said.
Martinez’s mother ran a child care center out of her Santa Fe Springs at the time of the molestations in 2005, officials said.
“In the afternoons, the children would have naptime in the living room,” Ardalani said. “It was during naptime that Martinez lured one of the children, a 5-year-old girl, into his bedroom and sexually abused her.”
The victim did not report the abuse at the time, officials said.
“The victim, who is now in high school, recently revealed to her mother about the molestation, which prompted the parent to call authorities and report the sexual abuse,” Ardalani said.
GLENDORA >> A U.S. Army solder from Glendora man has been returned to L.A. County from an Iraq deployment to face charges of child molestation and forcible rape, authorities said Wednesday.
Prosecutors charged Fadi Haddad, 39, on April 20 with three counts of committing lewd acts on a child and two counts of forcible rape of an adult, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
He is an army reservist with the rank of specialist who works in military intelligence and translation, Glendora police Detective Chris Farino said.
After prosecutors filed charges against Haddad in April, the Army arranged for him to be returned to his deploying base in Fort Hood, Texas, in mid-May to await legal proceedings, officials said.
Haddad waives his right to fight extradition and was returned to Los Angeles County to be booked into jail early May 28, Farino said.
The alleged child molestations involved an underage girl who Haddad had access to, and occurred between October of 2009 and October of 2010, and also between October of 2013 and October of 2014, Ardalani said.
The investigation began after, “a child revealed that he’d been sexually abusing her,” she said.
The child victim was 13 years old when the abuse began, Farino said.
During the course of investigation the alleged crimes against the child, detectives also encountered a woman who alleged that Haddad had raped her twice, in August of 2014 and in July of 2015, Ardalani said.
Haddad was also previously acquainted with the alleged adult victim, Farino said.
Haddad is scheduled to appear for arraignment June 17 in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, records show.
In the meantime, he was being held in lieu of $5 million bail.
Anyone with information can reach Glendora police at 626-914-9250. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
EL MONTE >> Police are seeking an unidentified man who grabbed and groped a 10-year-old girl as she was walking to school Friday morning.
The girl was walking to school about 7:15 a.m. when she encountered the man at Tyler Avenue and Dodson Street, El Monte police Sgt. Roger Cobian said in a written statement.
“The male suspect approached the girl who was alone and engaged her in conversation speaking only Spanish,” Cobian said. The girl walked away from him.
“The suspect came up behind the girl and hugged her while fondling her breast area over her clothing,” the sergeant said. “A school bus arrived scaring the suspect off.”
The attacker got into a silver, four-door compact car — possible a Toyota Corolla — and drove off, police said.
He was described as a Latino man, between 50 and 60 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall, of medium build, with salt-and-pepper hair an facial pock marks, officials said. He wore a black hooded sweatshirt.
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sketch artist created a composite sketch of the molester, “with the brave victim’s help,” Cobian said.
Police are in contact with area schools, and have beefed up patrols around area campuses, Cobian said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact El Monte police at 626-580-2114, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
BELLFLOWER >> A judge sentenced a Whittier chiropractor Friday after he was convicted last week of molesting three of his patients, authorities said.
Steven Patrick Lowry, 32, of Whittier pleaded “no contest” Oct. 8 to three counts of misdemeanor sexual battery, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. The crimes occurred both at his home and at the officer where he worked in the Whittwood Town Center.
A Bellflower Superior Court judge sentenced Lowry to 120 days in jail and three years of probation, Ardalani said. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and take a year of sexual compulsion classes.
Whittier police arrested Lowry in March after two female patients reported he had touched them inappropriately during treatments, police said at the time.
Lowry was released on $40,000 bail pending his legal proceedings, records show.
Three additional women soon came forward and made similar allegations, resulting in a total of five counts of sexual battery being filed against Lowry.
Under a negotiated plea, the two remaining counts were dismissed, Ardalani said.
Lowry’s chirpractic license has been suspended since June, records show.
PHOTO of Steven Lowry courtesy of the Whittier Police Department.
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.
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.
WEST COVINA>>A Traweek Middle School chaperone, who is the son of a local teachers’ union employee, has been arrested on suspicion of molesting a 14-year-old girl on a trip to Catalina Island over the weekend, sheriff’s officials said Wednesday .
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on the island arrested Brendan Richard Ramos, 21, early Sunday morning on suspicion of sexual battery, false imprisonment, annoying or molesting a child and child endangerment, according to officials and booking records.
He posted $500,000 bond later the same day and was released from custody pending his initial court appearance, sheriff’s Detective John Hatfield
Few details regarding the allegations were available.
Deputies arrested Ramos at a Toyon Bay campground where students from Traweek Middle School were taking part in a weekend excursion to learn about marine biology, Hatfield said.
Ramos is the son of Michelle Ramos, who serves as contract specialist for the Covina Valley Education Association. She declined to comment Wednesday.
Covina Valley Unified School District officials could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
Sunday’s arrest is the latest incident in an alleged string of alleged wrongdoing in the District, ranging from accusations of financial mismanagement to other alleged incidents of inappropriate contact between school staff and students.
Former district employee Michelle Ghirelli, 30, and South Hills High School teacher Melody Lippert, 38, are awaiting trial on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor following a beach party in which students were allegedly provided with cocaine, and Ghirelli allegedly slept with a 17-year-old student, authorities said.
Former part-time South Hills High School girls’ wrestling coach Anthony Vidales, 30, is also awaiting trial on allegations of unlawful sex with a 17-year-old girl he coached, as well as possession of child pornography.
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.