A man suspected of making between 500 and 1,000 obscene telephone calls to women on the Westside and in the South Bay in the last two years was arraigned Tuesday in Inglewood Municipal Court.
David Arthur Cohen, 26, of Redondo Beach, was charged with 11 misdemeanor counts of making obscene and annoying telephone calls, according to Capt. Ray Lewis of the Redondo Beach Police Department. Bail was set at $10,000 and a pretrial conference was set for Dec. 12.
Cohen, who is self-employed and listed his business as a firm called Starting Line, 114 W. Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey, was arrested by Redondo Beach Police on Oct. 11 at his home.
If convicted, Cohen could receive a maximum of one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
Los Angeles Police Sgt. Glen Varner of the West Los Angeles Division said that about two years ago he started charting crime reports about obscene telephone calls placed by a man who identified himself as "Tom Springer."
Varner said police in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific and West Los Angeles divisions and at UCLA received at least 200 crime reports about Springer over two years.
The man calling himself Tom Springer would ask women for their husbands by name, saying he was a friend. If the women said their husbands were not at home, Varner said, the caller would tell them he had the husband and would castrate him if they did not do what he ordered. He would then proceed to tell them to undress and perform sex acts, Varner said.
Varner said that victims of the obscene caller included attorneys' wives and a police officer's wife. "A lot of the women who came in or called were terrified," he said.
Varner said he began to chart the calls in an effort to establish a pattern. It appeared that the caller was selecting victims names at random from the telephone book, he said.
"In May, the calls died off (in the West Los Angeles Division)," Varner said. "Then they started up in Pacific Division," which takes in Venice, Mar Vista and Westchester.
As reports started coming in from Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach, Varner shared his charts with police there.
Lewis said police in the beach cities made arrangements for the telephone company to put "traps" on the victims' telephones--devices that enable telephone officials to trace the last call a victim received.
"We would like to identify additional victims," Lewis said. "We estimate between 500 and 1,000 telephone calls were made."