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Man posing as magazine photographer accused of sexually assaulting four women [updated]

November 25, 2009 | 11:23 pm
A 22-year-old South Los Angeles man who posed as a Vibe magazine photographer is being investigated in connection with at least four sexual assaults of young women, whom he allegedly told he would hire as underwear models, Los Angeles police said today.

The crimes began in early October and took place within a one-mile radius of the subway station at 7th and Figueroa streets, said LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon.

Keith Nichols, a security guard who has lived in Compton, Hawthorne and South Los Angeles, told his victims that they could become models for Vibe, Vernon said. But before they could get hired, Nichols said he had to measure them for "custom-fitted underwear," according to police.

At least four women submitted to the examination, in which he allegedly used a measuring tape to carry out the ruse. He then touched "their most intimate body parts," and they never got called back about the modeling work, Vernon said.

Vernon said the women were measured in public areas out of the view of passersby. Nichols touched the women's bare breasts and groins with his hands but apparently did not take photographs, at least in the cases involving the four victims, police said.

In two cases, Nichols met his victims on the light-rail line between Long Beach and Los Angeles. Those two women, in turn, each had a roommate who they referred to Nichols, police said 

[Updated, 11:15 p.m.: After police announced their probe of Nichols, another woman came forward and told investigators he approached her a couple of days ago on the North Hollywood subway. She didn’t take him up on the offer, Lt. Paul Vernon said.

Then managers from a downtown security company called police and said they had fired Nichols earlier in the year for using his security badge off duty.  The caller said they thought he might be working as a security guard downtown for another security company, Vernon said.

"Given today's revelations, I suspect Thanksgiving might be a little awkward in the Nichols' house tomorrow," Vernon said. "Having the holiday to think on it, I hope Nichols drops into the Central Station Friday morning so we can clear it all up. The desk officers will be expecting him.]

--Andrew Blankstein and Robert Lopez

Photo credit: LAPD

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