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.
GLENDORA — A man was behind bars Thursday on suspicion of groping young women at Citrus College, and police are seeking any other potential victims, authorities said.
Glendora police arrested Jose Antonio Villatoro, 32, a transient and student at Citrus College, on suspicion of sexual battery Tuesday, Detective Jason Tibbetts said. One alleged molestation took place Monday, and three occurred Tuesday at the campus, 1000 W. Foothill Blvd.
“Villatoro approached the victims while riding a blue BMX bicycle and engaged them in conversation,” Tibbetts said. “The suspect then grabbed at the victims’ legs and buttocks.”
A campus security guard detained Villatoro until police arrived following Tuesday’s incidents, police said.
Police are seeking any other possible victims of Villatoro who have not come forward.
Anyone with information is asked to call Glendora police at 626-914-8200.
According to county booking records, Villatoro was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail and was due for arraignment today in West Covina Superior Court.
PHOTO of Jose Villatoro courtesy of the Glendora Police Department.
POMONA — A judge sentenced a man to prison Wednesday for molesting a 14-year-old Covina boy he met on the Internet, authorities said.
Achilles Corelleone, 47, of Salton City pleaded no contest to four counts of child molestation in Pomona Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Shiara Dvila-Morales said in a written statement.
“Pomona Superior Court Judge Mike Camacho immediately sentenced the defendant to five years state prison,” she said. “Corelleone, also known as Arlan Gene Reynoldson, additionally will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.”
Covina police Sgt. Dave Foster said the department was pleased to see the case come to a conclusion and justice served.
Foster added that there did not appear to be additional victims, as police initially feared.
“Based on the investigation, it looks like there were no other victims that the suspect targeted,” Foster said.
Officials searched Corelleone’s cell phone and computer during the investigation, he said, as well his online accounts.
“MySpace was very cooperative with us,” Foster said.
Authorities alleged that Corelleone met a 14-year-old Covina boy through the Internet Web site MySpace in March of 2009 and began meeting the boy in person within days, Covina police and District Attorney’s officials said.
The molestations occurred between July and October of last year, according to a criminal complaint.
Corelleone gave the boy gifts to build his trust before molesting him, police said.
The boy’s father, who had begun to suspect something inappropriate was going on between his son and Corelleone, spotted Corelleone at Kahler Russell Park in Covina on Oct. 19 of last year and called police, Foster said shortly after the arrest.
Corelleone had no history of sex crimes when he was arrested, police said, though burglary convictions in Texas and Wyoming.
*Booking photo courtesy of the Covina Police Department
The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles has opened up a probe of Cardinal Roger Mahoney for his role in the sex abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese in recent years. Here’s a portion of the story that appears on the Time’s Web site this afternoon:
The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles has launched a federal grand jury investigation into Cardinal Roger M. Mahony in connection with his response to the alleged molestation of children by priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the case.
The probe, in which U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien is personally involved, is aimed at determining whether Mahony, and possibly other church leaders, committed “honest services fraud” by failing to adequately deal with priests accused of sexually abusing children, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.
The state’s case against Virgil Cleon Harper went to a Jury Wednesday after both sides presented closing arguments.
Harper, a substitute teacher in Azusa, is accused of nine counts of sexual molestation involving youngsters in his classroom.
Our reporter Bethania Palma attended Wednesday’s court session and interviewed Harper. These excerpts are from her story:
Deputy District Attorney Miji Vellakkatel<NO1>cq <NO>told the jury there was solid evidence Harper touched the 9-and-10-year-old boys and girls in a sexual manner.
“The truth lies in the evidence,” he said. “He touched a total of 17 body parts that are sexual in nature.
The fourth graders had stated Harper touched genital areas, rear ends, breasts and thighs, Vellakkatel said.
Defense attorney Victor Salerno said the accusations were false and added they resulted from peer pressure and a “snowball effect.”
Harper said he had been a teacher and substitute teacher for years in various settings, including high schools and colleges. At one point he taught at Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.
He also worked as an adjunct professor at APU and served on the city’s architectural barriers commission.
Harper said he began teaching at grade schools about a year ago so he could get more hours.
He said if cleared of charges, he would not teach children again “unless there are cameras or another adult present.”
This from staff and wire reports:
LOS ANGELES — An Altadena man made his first court appearance today on
charges that he molested two 9-year-old girls, including one of his students,
while he was working as a teacher about 20 years ago.
Mark Walter Sonnenburg, 53, is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 20 on three
felony counts filed last Friday involving the two alleged victims, according to
Sandi Gibbons of the District Attorney’s Office.
One of the girls was a student at Eagle Rock Montessori School,
where he taught at the time, Gibbons said.
He had more recently taught at The Walden School in Pasadena where he worked until March, according to a statement released by that
“We have determined that these allegations do not involve any former or current
student from our school and are based on a time more than two decades ago,”
Walden School’s statement says. “Prior to learning of the allegations, the
school never received any information, complaint or allegation of this kind
involving Mr. Sonnenburg — before or during his tenure at the school.”
The Walden School said it had been contacted by authorities during the last
school year, had been fully cooperating with the investigation and conducted
its own independent investigation.
Sonnenburg was arrested last Friday by officers from the Los Angeles Police
Department’s Northeast Division. He has remained jailed since then in lieu of
El Monte police are investigation allegations that a custodian at a local elementaty school inappropriately touched a young girl in late April.
The unidientified custodian is now on paid administrative leave as police continue to investigate, according to school district officials.
Here’s an excerpt from a story running in tommorrow’s paper:
EL MONTE — A custodian at a local elementary school is currently on paid administrative leave as police investigate allegations that he inappropriately touched a student earlier this year, police and school district officials said.
The alleged incident occurred April 25 at La Primaria Elementary School, 4220 Gilman Road, said El Monte police Detective Ernie Cramer.
The name of the custodian, a man in his 60s, was not released, he said. He has not been arrested.
The investigation involves “inappropriate touching above the clothes,” said Cramer.
A girl in the 3rd grade came forward and told school officials that the custodian had touched her inappropriately earlier in the day, Cramer said.
School officials immediately contacted the girl’s parents and the El Monte Police Department, he said.
Mountain View School District Director of Special Projects Alan Morier said it’s district procedure to place any employee being investigated by police on paid administrative leave.