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News Release

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Media Relations

Detectives Seeking Victims in Sexual Exploitation of Teens NR15923pv

Encino: Detectives have released the names and pictures of three persons already arrested and charged with the sexual exploitation of a 12-year-old girl who was lured off the street in the hopes of meeting celebrities. Steven Fernandez, 15, of Compton, was the prime mover in this conspiracy. He is a well-known skateboarder on social media, who also markets a popular clothing brand.



"Yes, it's unusual that we would release the name and photo of an arrested minor," explained Det. Ninette Toosbuy of the West Valley Detective Division. "But State law provides for such exceptions in cases where the perpetrator sexually targeted minors."

The investigation began November 13, 2015, when the victim explained to detectives how Fernandez had called her over to a car on Ventura Boulevard and used his celebrity as a skater to make an acquaintance with the minor and get her into the car, which was driven by Jose Barajas, 22, Fernandez's manager. Fernandez promised to introduce the girl to A-list performers and appear in Fernandez's non-existent MTV special in return for her engaging in sexual acts with Fernandez, Barajas, and Keelan Lamar Dadd, 27, the third man charged in the case and a fellow professional skater.

"Fernandez and his buddies used his fame and brand to sexually exploit the very girls who made the men rich and famous," Det. Toosbuy added. "We're taking exceptional measures to find additional victims because the fate of some young lives may be at stake."

Fernandez and Barajas were arrested November 17 as part of a sting by detectives who posed as the 12-year-old victim and arranged via text to meet at an abandoned home for sex. Dadd turned himself in to detectives with his lawyer on December 3. All three were booked on charges of Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Child Under 14. Barajas' bail was set at $475,000 and Dadd's was set at $200,000. Both men have bailed out. Fernandez, as a minor, was released to his mother and ordered to wear an ankle tracker, pending his court appearance.

"We want parents to look at the names and pictures of the defendants and ask their daughters if there's been any contact," Det. Toosbuy said. "The suspects tended to cruise West San Fernando Valley, Hollywood, and Compton, looking for young girls to solicit."

Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call Det. Ninette Toosbuy, West Valley Detectives, at (818) 374-7718. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7(877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters "LAPD." Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.







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