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Man Held in Rape of Monroe High Girl

October 25, 2002|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

An 18-year-old Los Angeles man who was arrested Thursday in connection with the abduction and rape of a Monroe High School student has been linked to at least eight other sexual assaults or attempted attacks in the San Fernando Valley, police said.

The suspect is believed to be responsible for attacks since December in areas covered by the Los Angeles Police Department's Devonshire, Foothill and Van Nuys divisions, said Det. Jesse Alvarado. The man's identity is being withheld as police investigate his ties to the other crimes.

In the abduction on Oct. 18, a man in a white Honda Accord approached a 14-year-old Monroe High student walking in the 9000 block of Willis Avenue. The girl was on her way to the North Hills school and the man offered her a ride.

When the girl refused, the man drove farther up the block. After parking his car, he again approached the girl, simulated pointing a gun at her and forced her into the car. He then drove to an alley about two blocks away where he assaulted her, police said.

The attack was the latest in a string of assaults allegedly carried out by the suspect involving victims who range in age from 14 to 26, Alvarado said. Five of the victims were under 18, he said.

Police said the case has been tough to solve because the assailant committed a variety of crimes, including kidnappings and child annoyance acts. The assailant also drove up to his victims in different vehicles, police said, making it more difficult to detect a pattern.

Earlier this week, investigators released a composite sketch of the assailant, described as an Asian man in his early 20s, 5 feet 3, 120 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair and pock-marked skin. He was wearing a white hooded sweater, black or gray shorts and white shoes.

Detectives said at least two dozen people from Whittier to Santa Clarita called with information needed to break the case.

At Monroe High on Thursday, Principal Greg Vallone said the arrest would help calm nerves. But he warned that students should always be cautious when walking to and from school. Teachers on Monday distributed 5,000 fliers with safety tips for students, advising them to walk with a friend or in a group on well-lighted streets.

"I'm glad he's off the street," Vallone said. "It's a horrible thing he has done. To be honest, the cooperation with news media, making this a focus, truly helped in solving this crime. I know he'll be off the streets for a long time."

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Times staff writer David Pierson contributed to this report.

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