Antonio Castelan and Jeff Scharping
A 19 year old Santa Clarita resident is accused of sexually assaulting girls ranging from 12 to 16 years old
Los Angeles Sheriff’s spokesman indicated Wednesday there may be as many as four more victims of a 19-year-old Santa Clarita man accused of seducing 14 underage girls.
Michael Downs of Santa Clarita was booked on Dec. 15 on suspicion of committing lewd acts with a child and unlawful sexual intercourse. If he were convicted on the 29 charges against him, he could face the rest of his life in prison.
He is currently being held in lieu of $1.8 million dollars bail.
Downs was arraigned in San Fernando Superior Court on Tuesday, but the investigation into the case is continuing.
Detectives began investigating the case earlier this month after a young girl reported she was sexually assaulted by Downs.
The detectives in the Sheriff’s Special Victim’s Bureau identified an additional 13 victims between the ages of 12 and 16.
Downs reportedly met the victims at social occasions or by “friending” them on Facebook.
Lt. Carlos Marquez of the Special Victims Bureau said all of the encounters occurred in 2011, throughout the year.
“He befriended victims on Facebook by claiming he was 16 years old,” Marquez said.
Now, detectives are concerned that people with “a relationship” to the suspect may have been trying to contact some of the victims.
“Some of our victims have been contacted through social media and Facebook,” he said, adding he wants people to be aware that anyone who tries to intimidate one of the victims “will be prosecuted for intimidation of a witness.”
“In this particular case, we have a lot of victims and every victim is handled differently. A lot of the girls are afraid that people are going to find out what happened to them and that’s very embarrassing for any victim,” he said.
“Santa Clarita is a small community,” he added, “and a lot of people know each other and with the availability of Facebook and other Social Media, a lot of these folks know each other and that is where the embarrassment comes in.”
The victims are believed to have attended three different schools in the Hart Union High School District. District officials say they're doing what they can to help the victims, and help with the investigation.
"Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and the victims," said Gail Pinsker, a district spokeswoman. "We are here for them."