LOS ANGELES >> A previously convicted child sex predator from Norwalk who traveled to Cambodia for sex with at least five boys received a sentence of more than two decades in federal prison this week, authorities said.
Erik Leonardus Peeters, 48, received a 22-year prison term in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday after pleading guilty in 2012 to two counts of engaging in illicit sexual contact with a minor in a foreign place, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder also ordered Peeters to pay $15,000 in restitution to his victims, officials said. Upon his release from prison, he will be subject to supervised release for life.
“This defendant is a sexual predator who repeatedly victimized young boys, several of whom have physical disabilities, and all of whom come from deeply impoverished communities in the developing world,” according to U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker.”This lengthy sentence sends a message to all pedophiles in the United States that they cannot escape prosecution by traveling to other countries to engage in illegal and horrific sexual acts against children.”
Peeters was already a registered sex offender, convicted of crimes against young boys in 1990, when he visited Southeast Asia, according to federal prosecutors and California’s sex offender database.
“According to court documents filed in this case, Peeters traveled to Cambodia in April 2008, and within two months began seeking out youths for sex, targeting victims who were destitute and often disabled,” Mrozek said.
Cambodian National Police arrested him in February of 2009 for violating Camobian laws against child sex abuse, according to Mrozek.
U.S. prosecutors subsequently filed charges of engaging in sexual conduct with minors in a foreign country, authorities said. He was returned to the U.S. to face the American justice system in August of 2009.
Four of Peeters’ victims appeared at his sentencing hearing Wednesday to tell the court how his abuse had affected their lives, Mrozek said.
According to California’s sex offender database, Peeters was convicted in 1990 of committing lewd or lascivious acts on a boy under 14 years old. Records indicate he was released from jail or prison the same year.
“Peeters is the third and final defendant sentenced as part of Operation Twisted Traveler, a joint initiative by (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations) and the Department of Justice to identify and prosecute American men who traveled to Cambodia and engaged in sexual conduct with children there,” Mrozek said. “The defendants were charged under the PROTECT Act, which took effect in 2003 and substantially strengthened the federal laws related to predatory crimes involving children outside the U.S. by adding new crimes and increasing prison sentences.”
Two other men have received prison sentences of 70 years and 10 years, respectively, in connection with the operation.
Special Agent in Charge of HSI in Los Angeles Joseph Macias credited the law enforcement officials who investigated and prosecuted the cases for their “tenacity and tireless dedication.”
“Americans tempted to commit sex crimes overseas should understand that tough U.S. laws will ensure they pay a high price for their criminal actions,” he said. “We owe it to the young victims, many of whom will bear the emotional scars for the rest of their lives.”
PHOTO: Erik Leonardus Peeters, 48, of Norwalk. (courtesy)
Anthony Seth McDaniel, 38, of Compton. (Courtesy, California Department of Justice)
PASADENA >> Prosecutors filed charges against a convicted sex offender from Compton Friday for the alleged kidnapping of two young Pasadena woman managed to break free from their captor in harrowing escapes, officials said.
Anthony Seth McDaniel was charged with two counts of kidnapping with intent to commit oral copulation, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
He entered no plea, Santiago said. His arraignment hearing was postponed until May 20 in the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
McDaniel is accused of abducting two 18-year-old women about 10 p.m. on April 30 from a bus at Fair Oaks Avenue and Montana Street in Pasadena, Pasadena police officials said. He offered the victims a ride and persuaded them to get into his car.
But the women realized something was amiss when McDaniel drove in the opposite direction of where he had said he would take them, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
One of the women jumped from McDaniel’s pickup truck as it entered the 210 Freeway at Mountain Street, suffering a broken angle.
After the first victims escaped, McDaniel allegedly pulled a gun, threatened the second victim not to escape as well and ordered her to perform sex acts on him, police said. But she yanked on the steering wheel of the truck, causing it to crash into another car on the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles, police said in a written statement. McDaniel then pushed her from the slowly-moving car, causing injuries to her shoulder and arm.
In addition to two counts of kidnapping with intent to commit a sex crime, prosecutors also allege the special circumstances that McDaniel caused great bodily injury during the crimes, and that he is already a convicted sex offender.
McDaniel was convicted in 2008 of assault with intent to commit a sex offense, according to California’s sex registrant database. He remained on parole and was fitted with a GPS ankle bracelet.
During Friday’s court appearance, McDaniel’s bail was set at $2.08 million, Santiago said.
If convicted as charged, McDaniel faces up to two life terms in prison.
NORWALK >> Detectives are seeking possible additional victims of a 54-year-old sex offender caught trying to lure a 10-year-old girl into his car at a Norwalk park over the weekend, officials said.
Armando Hernandez of Norwalk had children’s pamphlets from a church, as well as an extra license plate, inside his car at the time of his arrest about 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Norwalk Park, 13000 Clarkdale Ave., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Detective Henry Jaquez said in a written statement.
He tried to abduct the girl shortly after 6:40 p.m., authorities said.
“(Hernandez) attempted to pull the victim, a 10-year-old girl, into a 2000 tan Toyota Corolla, licence plate 7PMD192,” Jaquez said.
The girl’s parents saw what was happening and yelled at the would-be kidnapper, who released the girl, Lt. Robin Limon said.
Responding deputies soon found the suspect, later identified as Hernandez.
Along with two hats and a red flannel shirt, deputies pamphlets for a children’s ministry at Emmanuel Reformed Church in Paramount, as well as a second license plate with a number of 4YRT979 in the trunk, according to a flyer issued by the sheriff’s department.
His car was further described as having a black hood and front fenders and dented rear quarter panels on both sides.
According to California’s online database of registered sex offenders, Hernandez has a previous conviction for annoying or molesting a minor.
He was being held without bail pending a scheduled appearance Friday in Norwalk Superior Court, Los Angeles County booking records show.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Jaquez at 562-466-5434. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
COVINA >> Police jailed an out-of-compliance sex offender after he tried to lure a 4-year-old girl into the men’s bathroom at a Covina park Friday, authorities said.
Matthew James Smith, a 49-year-old transient, was booked on suspicion of child annoyance and failing to register as a sex offender following his arrest shortly after 11 a.m. at Covina City Park, 301 N. Fourth Ave., Covina police Sgt. gregg Peterson said in a written statement.
Police responded to the park after receiving a report, “that an adult male had attempted to lure a 4-year-old female
into the men’s public restroom at the park,” Peterson said.
The child’s mother prevented her daughter from going with the man, he said. She did not confront him directly, but kept an eye on him as she called police and explained what had happened.
Officers found Smith still in the park and detained him.
“Initially the suspect denied having any contact with the victim, however, he was positively identified and placed under citizen’s arrest for child annoyance,” the sergeant said.
Police soon also discovered that Smith was a registered sex offender who had failed to register, he said.
Further details regarding Smith’s prior criminal history were not available late Friday.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Covina police detectives at 626-384-5628. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
WHITTIER >> Police Friday jailed a registered sex offender they say raped two teenage girls he met in the parking lot of a Whittier high school during two separate incidents that Wednesday and Thursday.
Richie Esquivel Corvera, 28, of South Whittier was booked on suspicion of two counts of rape by force or fear, as well as violating his probation, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Investigators arrested Corvera Friday night, hours after the two victims, ages 14 and 15, reported the crimes to school officials, who then notified Whittier police, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said in a written statement.
Corvera met both victims in the parking lot of Sierra Vista High School, 9401 Painter Ave., police said.
The first attack took place about 9 a.m. Wednesday after Corvera approached a 15-year-old girl in the parking lot of the school, Scoggins said.
“Corvera persuaded the victim to get into his car and eventually drove her to a local motel where a sexual assault took place,” he said.
A nearly identical incident took place the following day, when Corvera persuaded a 14-year-old girl to get into his car before driving her to a motel and sexually assaulting her, officials said.
After learning of the alleged crimes Friday, “Detectives carried out an extensive investigation throughout the day, which resulted in the identification of Corvera as the suspect in this crime,” Scoggins said.
Police found him about 9 p.m. driving along Scott Avenue, north of Lambert Road, and arrested him during a traffic stop.
Following his arrest, detectives served a search warrant at Corvera’s home in the 10300 block of Parise Drive, Scoggins said. The home sits only a few hundred feet from the campus of California High School at 9800 Mills Ave.
Police were looking into whether Corvera was permitted to live so close to a school under the terms of his probation and sex registrant status, Scoggins said.
Corvera is already a registered sex offender due to a previous conviction for annoying or molesting a child, according to the state’s Megan’s Law database.
He was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Bellflower Superior Court.
Corvera drives a white, newer-model, four-door sedan, Scoggins said. But he added that investigators had ruled out the possibility he had access to other vehicles as well.
“Detectives are concerned that additional victims may be out there,” Scoggins said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police at 562-567-9200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
Detectives Wednesday arrested a convicted sex offender from Ontario on suspicion of the rape of a Highland senior citizen during a home invasion earlier this month, authorities said.
Antawon Riley Stubblefield, 27, is accused of rape, oral copulation by force, false imprisonment and home-invasion robbery in connection with the attack and robbery, which took place on the afternoon of Dec. 8 at the victim’s home in the 7800 block of Lankershim Avenue, Highland police officials said in a written statement.
“Investigation revealed that an unknown suspect forced entry into the 67-year-old victim’s residence and attacked her as she watched television,” according to the statement. “The suspect then held the victim against her will inside of her home; during which he sexually assaulted her several times over a four-hour period.”
The attacker stole cash and other items from the victim before fleeing her home. The woman was hospitalized for treatment, and her attacker was not found.
Detectives were notified by crime lab officials Tuesday that DNA collected at the crime scene has been matched to Stubblefield, officials said. Stubblefield was already on felony probation and a registered sex offender for a previous assault conviction.
Officials obtained a warrant for Stubblefield’s arrest, and took him into custody Wednesday when he reported to his probation officer, police said.
Authorities added that detectives are seeking any additional people who may have been victimized by Stubblefield.
According to San Bernardino Superior Court records, Stubblefield was awaiting sentencing in his previous case at the time of the Highland attack. He was released from custody Nov. 16 after being granted a waiver allowing him to be free from custody pending formal sentencing.
The Highland home-invasion took place less than a month later.
Stubblefield had pleaded “no contest” to a count of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and engaging in prostitution stemming from a Sept. 1 arrest, records show. An additional count of attempted forcible rape was dismissed by the court.
He was sentenced under AB 109 guidelines, which state officials say is intended for “non-violent, non-serious and non-sexual” offenders.
He received a sentence of 150 days in jail, with credit for time already served and good behavior. He was also sentenced to three years of Post-Release Community Supervision and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
He was formally placed on felony probation at a hearing Tuesday, the same day his DNA was linked to the Highland crime scene.
Stubblefield was being held without bail Wednesday at the West Valley Detention Center pending his initial court appearance, officials said.
PHOTO of suspect Antawon Riley Stubblefield courtesy of the Highland Police Department.
ARCADIA >> Police arrested a convicted sex offender Friday after he was found nude, sitting atop a vibrator and surrounded by pornography on the grounds of an Arcadia church, officials said.
Paul Allan McQuown, 55, of Azusa is accused of indecent exposure following Friday’s arrest, which took place shortly after 4 p.m. at the Arcadia Congregational Church, 2607 S. Santa Anita Ave., according to Arcadia police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
A groundskeeper at the church called police after finding McGuown nude, sitting on the vibrator under some trees on the church property, Arcadia police Lt. Mike Castro said.
“He had a lot of pornographic material with him,” Castro said. The nude man also had a knife within reach.
Responding police officers found McQuown and took him into custody, the lieutenant said. He was expected to be booked for indecent exposure.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court records, McGuown has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1992. He already had a pending case for failure to register as a sex offender at the time of his arrest Friday.
In recent years, McQuown has been convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia six times, failure to register as a sex offender twice and trespassing, possession of a controlled substance and being under the influence of a controlled substance, records show.
In the 2000s, McQuown was convicted of lewd conduct in public, possession of drug paraphernalia twice, and possession of a controlled substance, according to court records. In the 1990s, he was convicted of indecent exposure five times, as well as trespassing.
Despite his numerous sex-related convictions, McGuown is not listed on California’s statewide database of registered sex offenders.
It was not clear Friday why he was not listed, though not all convicted sex offenders are subject to public disclosure of their information on the database.
Though indecent exposure is often considered a misdeamnor offense, because of his prior convictions, McQuown was booked on suspicion of a felony, police said.
He was being held in lieu of $35,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court.
Mark Walter Sonnenburg of Altadena will be sentenced on April 19, officials said. He was picked up by LAPD in 2008.
A former teacher pleaded no contest today to charges he molested two 9-year-old girls in 1988, including one who attended the school where he worked.
Mark Walter Sonnenburg, 55, pleaded no contest to two counts of lewd act with a child, according to Deputy District Attorney Ann Marie Wise.
He is due back in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 19, when the victims are expected to speak and Sonnenburg is scheduled to be taken into custody to begin serving a six-month jail term, the prosecutor said.
Sonnenburg will serve the jail time before he returns to court for sentencing.
Along with the jail term, Sonnenburg is expected to be ordered to serve five years’ probation, register as a sex offender for life, undergo sex offender counseling and not be alone with minor children, according to Wise.
He will be barred from teaching, the prosecutor said.
The Pasadena City College’s newspaper reported Thursday that Head Football Coach Kenny Lawler remains on paid leave from the school while the administration continues to conduct an investigation.
The college is investigating how a GPS-wearing registered sex offender named Darryl “Slurp” Stephens was not only allowed to register at the college but was a starter on the football team.
Here’s a portion of the story by PCC Editor Jeremy Balan:
According to school officials, the third-party investigation into his “policies and procedures” has concluded, but further action regarding Lawler’s status at the college is unknown.
“Really nothing has changed, even though the investigation is completed. There has not been any decision made. At this point Kenneth Lawler is still on paid administrative leave and that’s basically all I know at this point,” Interim Dean/Athletic Director Beverly Tate said in a phone message on Tuesday.