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Crimes targeting schoolgirls rise; man is jailed

October 26, 2006|Valerie Reitman | Times Staff Writer

An unusual number of crimes involving schoolgirls -- including lewd acts and a few attempted kidnappings -- have occurred in the Southland in recent weeks, and a suspect in at least some of the incidents has been arrested, authorities said.

But one case, involving a 15-year-old student at Cerritos High School, turned out to be an apparent hoax, with the girl recanting her story Wednesday night.

The ongoing cases occurred in Baldwin Park and South Los Angeles.

In Baldwin Park about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, a man on a bicycle approached a 14-year-old girl walking home from school. He tried to grab her and pull her toward him, but she broke away. Authorities described the suspect as weighing 250 to 300 pounds.

A suspect was arraigned Tuesday in connection with six other incidents over the last six months, the latest one occurring Friday, officials said.

Dennis Alan Martinez, 46, pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of committing a lewd act on a child and attempted kidnapping in incidents involving six girls, ages 6 to 9, whom he allegedly led into alleys or secluded yards, where he asked them to rearrange their clothes and photographed them.

Martinez was arrested Saturday. He allegedly approached a 6-year-old girl about 7 a.m. Friday after her father dropped her off at 49th Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles.

Police say the man took the girl by the hand and led her to a nearby backyard, where he took photos of her and then lay down atop her, fully clothed. He ran when confronted by two women but left behind a jacket, police said.

The five similar incidents in which Martinez is accused involved students at Main Street, Wadsworth and 49th Street Elementary schools, all within a square mile, and occurred from late April to August. The girls were not physically injured.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies said the subject of the supposed attempted abduction came to the Cerritos station with her mother at 9 p.m. Wednesday and recanted her story. Oscar R. Butao, a department spokesman, said the girl "was having negative teenager issues."

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