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Bail Set at $1 Million for Men in Canyon Assaults

July 24, 2001|MAI TRAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Orange County judge on Monday set bail at $1 million apiece for two 19-year-old men accused of raping two teenage girls and brutalizing their boyfriends in Orange County's remote Black Star Canyon.

However, Judge Gary Paer postponed their arraignments until next month.

The suspects, Cuahutemoc Torres of Orange and Erick Dominguez of Anaheim, made their first court appearances Monday at separate hearings. The two already were being held without bail on probation violations.

Both suspects, wearing yellow jail jumpsuits, are being held in solitary confinement for their protection, said Tori Richards, spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office. Their family members were not present in court.

Torres and Dominguez allegedly raped two girls, 13 and 15, and beat up their boyfriends, 16 and 17, while the two couples were out on a late-night walk July 3 along Black Star Canyon.

Three juveniles were also charged in the attack: Veruk Kim, 17; Jesus Rene Green, 16; and Phu Quoc Tran, 15.

The male victims were hit on the head with rocks and metal rods. The two girls were repeatedly raped before they were dumped in an isolated area of the canyon. They later wandered through the scrub brush, covering themselves with rags and cardboard, until they reached a road and flagged down help.

The five suspects were arrested after investigators found fresh graffiti near the scene that linked the crimes to a gang in which the suspects are members, police say.

On Friday, Dominguez and Torres were charged with 39 felony counts each, including rape, kidnapping, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking and forcible oral copulation. They face life sentences if convicted.

In a jailhouse interview with The Times last week, the two adult suspects acknowledged that they took part in the attack and expressed remorse. They said they first vandalized the victims' car, drove off and later returned for CDs they had seen. They were met by the girls and their boyfriends, who hadn't seen the vandals and unwittingly asked the 19-year-olds for help with the car.

The juveniles were charged with 17 counts each, but prosecutors said they will file additional charges and that they will seek to try them as adults. A hearing will be held today.

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