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Man Sought in Up to 40 Assaults Targeting Women's Underwear

Police name a suspect after years of attacks. The perpetrator follows a certain stalking pattern and tries to pull off the undergarment.

March 26, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

Police in five cities are seeking a Huntington Beach man suspected of as many as 40 Orange County sexual batteries over the last four years, crimes in which he allegedly knocked the women down and tried to pull off their underwear.

Alvaro Flores, 27, is wanted for questioning in the most recent incident, which occurred Wednesday at an Irvine apartment complex. The case was the first in which the attacker succeeded in removing the woman's underwear.

Lt. Mike Hamel, a spokesman for the Irvine Police Department, said several victims of similar assaults in nearby cities have identified Flores as the attacker.

"The attacks bear the same characteristics," Hamel said, "and we linked them by looking at the suspect's description, what he's doing, how he's approaching the women and where he's targeting them. It was a combination of all these factors that allowed us to determine that these crimes are related."

The attacks, which began in December 2000, usually involve women entering or leaving apartment complex carports and carrying laundry or groceries, Hamel said. Most attacks have occurred from 6 to 9 a.m. or 6 to 9 p.m. The crimes have been committed in Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana and Irvine, which has had the highest number.

The attacker approaches the women from behind, grabs them, pushes up or pulls down their clothing and tries to remove their underwear. When the women begin to struggle, Hamel said, the attacker runs away.

Though no one has been physically injured, Hamel said, investigators are concerned that the level of violence could increase. "Whenever you have a suspect doing these kinds of crimes," he said, "you need to be aware that things might escalate."

Flores is described as Latino, with brown hair and eyes, 5 foot 4 and weighing about 130 pounds. He was convicted last year of a sexual assault and burglary in Fountain Valley, but it could not be immediately determined what the sentence was.

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