LA authorities ID 2 suspects who sexually assaulted severely disabled women
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – One of the men suspected of sexually assaulting disabled women depicted on a videotape anonymously sent to authorities is already behind bars on sex charges, and he was married to one of the alleged victims, the sheriff's department reported Friday.
Bert Hicks, 42, is serving a sentence at Tehachapi State Prison for sexual assault, and is up for parole next year, said sheriff's Detective Ron Anderson.
Los Angeles police detectives contacted sheriff's detectives Thursday night saying they recognized Hicks and also possibly recognized a second man, Anderson said. The identity of that man was not disclosed, but he is being sought.
Authorities did not say where Hicks is from, but the crimes for which he is in prison occurred in the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department in 2007 and 2009.
Anderson told Fox11 that Hicks was married to a 25-year-old disabled woman pictured in some of the videos, and she was allegedly victimized by Hicks and two unidentified men who are being sought. Detectives plan to interview Hicks in their investigation.
The sheriff's department received a computer hard drive last March from an anonymous source that contains more than 100 hours of video showing at least 10 disabled women being sexually assaulted by at least eight men, said Sgt. Darren Harris of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
It's not known where and when the attacks took place, but Harris said at least one of the locations appears to be a residential care facility.
“All of the victims appear to be severely disabled,” Harris said. “The extremely disturbing videos are not being released to the public, but photos from portions of the video are being released in an effort to identify some of the suspects.”
Images of the alleged victims will not be released, he said. One of the suspects also appears to have been disabled because he used a wheelchair.
“Detectives from the Special Victims Bureau are concerned that these sexual assaults might still be occurring,” Sgt. Dan Scott said on Thursday. “The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department welcomes information that can lead to stopping these criminals.”
Scott said some of the videotaped attacks appeared to involve force with no consent from the disabled victims.
He said one of the attacks appears to have been carried out by a man in a wheelchair at some type of hospital or care facility.
“When he wheeled himself the room, he used his arms to hoist himself onto the bed,” Scott said. “He removed his diaper. He removed the diaper of the victim. He engaged her in sexual activity, sexual assault. He then hoisted himself onto the floor, scooted across the floor, out the doorway and disappeared from the camera's view.”
Anyone with information about the assaults was asked to contact the Special Victims Bureau at (866) 247-5877. Sheriff's officials said they would also like to talk to the person who dropped off the footage, promising the person could remain anonymous.
“This was really shocking because we're supposed to defend the defenseless,” Detective Ron Anderson said. “And these people are truly defenseless. They cannot fight off an attacker. They don't have the ability to consent to this kind of activity.”