A 48-year-old man is going to state prison for 15 years to life for molesting two underage female relatives, including one over several years of sleepovers in Fullerton beginning when she was 7.
Meanwhile, a 38-year-old man was sent to state prison for six years for molesting four boys during sleepovers in Tustin last year.
A Garden Grove woman was convicted of violating a protective order by facilitating communication between a jailed child rapist and his victim.
A 47-year-old man was charged with sexually assaulting a 9-year-old female relative in Santa Ana 19 years ago.
A parolee wanted in Orange County for alleged sex offender registration violations was arrested at a Northern California community college, where he was attending classes under a different name.
A retired La Habra High School teacher has been charged in relation to 30-year-old sexual exploitation allegations in Illinois, where he taught before relocating in Orange County.
The now-former president of the Buena Park School District school board pleaded not guilty to felony counts of possessing and distributing child pornography.
A self-titled “Rehab Mogul” who faces lawsuits and a separate criminal case alleging sexual assaults of clients will stand trial—on charges of fraudulently billing companies in one of the largest criminal cases against an addiction facility in state history.
Finally, Cal State Fullerton police are seeking a man who made sexual and threatening comments to a female student.
Amador Estrada received his 15-to-life sentence Friday after having been convicted of three counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14, with jurors also finding true sentencing enhancement allegations for multiple victims. Evidence was also presented during the trial alleging Estrada also victimized a third relative, but he was not charged for that. The successful prosecution covers molestations that happened between Oct. 21, 2009, and June 19, 2012, when Estrada’s youngest victim told friends at her elementary school what had happened to her, and the word spread to the principal, who contact police. The girl had previously informed family members, but they did not contact authorities. The Fullerton police investigation uncovered the stories of the other girls, including one who accused Estrada of “licking his lips” as he leered at her crotch.
Juan Carlos Cruz-Olmos also received his sentence Friday after having pleaded guilty in a deal with the court to four counts of lewd acts with a minor younger than 14. Two victims of last September’s molestations were eight and two were 12 at the time, and two of the boys are related to Cruz-Olmos and the other pair were friends.
Jessica Lee Pearles pleaded guilty May 5 to one misdemeanor count of violation of a protective order in a court offer that led to a sentence of 30 days in county jail, 30 days of community service and three years of informal probation. She could have got up to a year in jail if convicted without pleading guilty. Between April 29 and Nov. 22 of last year, the 37-year-old Garden Grove resident facilitated phone contact between a 9-year-old family member and a man sitting in Orange County Central Men’s Jail accused of raping her multiple times in 2014. That violated a protective order prohibiting communication with the victim, which Pearles was aware of because she spoke to the man about the stay-away order on a recorded phone line. The Garden Grove Police Department investigated and arrested Pearles on Feb. 10 at her workplace.
Olegario Sigifredo Sorianosantos is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on two felony counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, two felony counts of forcible lewd acts on a child and a sentencing enhancement allegation for substantial sexual conduct. From March 1998 and through 2000, he allegedly assaulted the girl relative, beginning when she was 9 and living with him. The victim only recently told authorities about the allegations because she saw Sorianosantos in her neighborhood and became frightened.
Charles “Chuck” Ritz III taught math at La Habra High School for three decades, served on California education commissions and was a chief negotiator for the teacher union. But last fall, after Ritz retired, the local school district opened an investigation. That was because of another probe, by an Illinois television news outfit, into sexual exploitation allegations before Ritz arrived in Orange County. There is apparently enough smoke to the accusations that the Lake County state’s attorney just charged Ritz with one count of public indecency. Lake County authorities say they interviewed more than 50 witnesses from Florida to California before filing the charge. From 1975-85, Ritz taught junior high in north suburban Lake Bluff, where several former students, who are now in their 40s, say he took them after a Friday night pizza party to his parents’ house, where he allegedly went on to show them a pornographic film and asked if it would be OK for him to masturbate in front of them. One student claims that when he immediately informed the group to leave, Ritz told them they could not discuss what happened with anyone. But the kids told their friends at school the following Monday, and word got to parents and finally school officials. Ritz resigned in 1985 amid allegations of “unacceptable behavior” with students and was paid $22,000 in severance, but the accusations were not shared with police, prosecutors or potential employers until last year. The Lake Bluff school superintendent from the 1980s claims it was not mandatory to contact police or prosecutors back then. The Illinois school district’s current regime is cooperating with investigators, however, and the revelations have prompted other former students to allege actual sexual abuse by their teacher—as well as the launch of Fullerton schools investigation of him due to the years of exposure he had to kids in La Habra. The Santa Ana resident’s attorney claims the Illinois prosecutors felt they had to file at least the single misdemeanor charge to justify their costly “witch hunt,” and she adds her client “fully expects to be exonerated.” An arrest warrant bond of $100,000 was set for Ritz, who will be extradited if he does not surrender, according to Lake Bluff Police Chief David Belmonte.
Daniel Jaebok Lee was wanted since October in Orange County for an allegedly felony violation of sex offender registration requirements. The 41-year-old was found after Santa Rosa College campus police were tipped to his unusual behavior in a class, according to authorities. Further investigation revealed Lee was using an alias, that his rap sheet included indecent exposure, child molestation, attempted lewd acts on a child under 14 and assault with intent to commit rape, that he failed to register as a sex offender and that he illegally fled Orange County where he was on parole. He was arrested outside a class the morning of Monday, May 8, booked into Sonoma County Jail and extradited to Orange County.
Dennis Brian Chambers, the now-former president of the Buena Park School District school board, pleaded not guilty May 8 to a pair of felony charges of possessing and distributing child pornography. We’d previously reported that the 50-year-old was arrested last month by detectives investigating a group suspected of distributing child pornography over the Internet. That led Fontana police investigators to Chambers, who has a scheduled pretrial hearing set for June 2. Prosecutors allege a search of a computer in Chambers’ Buena Park residence turned up more than 600 obscene images, including 10 of a child under age 12. He is out of custody on $50,000 bail. His case led other school board members to vote to remove him as president, although he remains on the board as he awaits trial. While the case is active, Chambers has been asked by school district officials to avoid school functions and visiting campuses.
Christopher Bathum, the one-time owner of 15 alcohol and drug rehab centers in Orange and Los Angeles counties, is accused in a criminal case of selling methamphetamine and sexually assaulting female clients and in lawsuits by former clients and employees of having business goals to financially enrich himself, do drugs and sexually victimize young women, as we’ve previously reported. But the 55-year-old’s legal woes don’t end there: A Los Angeles County judge ruled last week that he must stand trial on charges of fraudulently billing companies $176 million in one of the largest criminal cases against an addiction facility in state history. Judge Michael Pastor says there is enough evidence to send Bathum and his finance officer Kirsten Wallace to trial on nearly 50 charges of grand theft, identity theft and money laundering involving Community Recovery of Los Angeles. Bathum’s addiction homes were targeted last year in an investigation by the California Department of Insurance and Orange and and Los Angeles counties’ district attorney offices. That led to the arrests of Bathum and Wallace at their homes in November. Both have pleaded not guilty and are being held in Los Angeles County jail in lieu of $1.75 million bail apiece. Bathum allegedly stole clients’ identities and purchased insurance policies without their knowledge. He is also accused of double billing insurance companies and charging for services that were never provided. Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Cigna, Health Net and Humana are among the companies that doled out $44 million before the alleged fraud was discovered. Bathum and Wallace, who are to be arraigned on May 23, could get more than 35 years in prison if convicted. That, of course, does not included the possible prison time and financial losses Bathum faces in the suits and separate criminal case.
A man in his 30s or 40s followed a woman about 4 p.m. Wednesday from the area near the Cal State Fullerton Humanities and Social Sciences quad to just outside University Hall, where he made sexual comments and then said, “You are my beautiful angel, if I can’t have you, I’ll have to kill you,” according to campus police. The victim reported the incident, and the campus police statement indicates the fellow rode off the CSUF grounds on a black bike toward the intersection of Nutwood and Commonwealth avenues. He was described as “possibly Hispanic” with a light complexion, about 6 feet tall with a shaved head. He was last seen wearing blue Dickey pants and a blue windbreaker. Anyone with information is asked to call 657.278.2903.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.