Los Angeles: A man has been arrested for a series of recent sexual assaults against at least four women in the northwest San Fernando Valley.
On Monday, September 26, 2005, at around 11:00 p.m., 18-year-old Richard Lopez was arrested at Devonshire Area Police Station as he was reporting an alleged hit and run accident.
Desk officers recognized Lopez’s vehicle as similar to a dark-colored minivan described by a number of women who had reported being inappropriately touched by a stranger. Earlier the same day, a woman had told officers she was groped through her clothes by a man in an alley behind nearby apartment buildings. The suspect had reached out and grabbed her from his vehicle as he drove through the alley. When the woman struggled to break free, the man lost control of his minivan and struck a gate that bordered the alley. As the driver sped away, the victim was able to get a partial plate of his vehicle. The victim suffered minor physical injuries that did not require hospitalization. Her description of the man resembled Lopez.
While Lopez was at the station Monday night, officers confirmed damage to his van consistent with a recent minor collision, and found that the plate number given by the most recent victim was very similar to Lopez’s. Detectives also discovered Lopez had a history of making obscene phone calls from his Chatsworth residence.
Lopez was arrested for Assault with Intent to Commit a Sex Crime and is being held on $35,000 bail. He has been linked to three other sexual assaults that have been reported occurring in apartment alleyways in the same neighborhood since August.
Detectives are urging any other victims who have been similarly assaulted to come forward. The identities of sexual assault victims are protected and always held in strict confidence.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Gordon or Detective Clifford, Operations Valley Bureau Sex Crime Unit, at 818-778-4779. Requests from the media should be directed to LAPD Media Relations Section at 213-485-3586.