Anonymous tipster who provided video of attacks on severely disabled women meets with detectives
The anonymous tipster who unleashed an investigation into the sexual abuse of at least 10 severely disabled women by handing over more than 100 hours of video of the attacks met with Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives over the weekend, sheriff's officials said Monday.
The informant, who was not identified by detectives because he feared for his safety, told sheriff's detectives that he was given a desktop computer by a drug addict and "asked to clean the hard drive," sheriff's detectives said in a statement.
The overwhelming amount of news coverage and public outrage encouraged him to step forward. The only thing he has asked is that his identity remain confidential. "We will of course respect his request," said Det. Sgt. Dan Scott of the sheriff's Special Victims Bureau.
The interview came hours after sheriff's officials announced they had arrested one man -- and located a second in state prison -- believed to be part of a group who allegedly filmed and sexually assaulted the severely disabled women.
Unaware of the subject matter, the informant began watching the footage and was "deeply disturbed by the videos and said what he saw made him sick," according to the statement released by detectives.
The man copied the videos onto 11 discs and sent them anonymously to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, along with an anonymous note, detectives said.
"We are very grateful to this man and are confident the public is too," said Det. Dan Scott of the sheriff's Special Victims Bureau. "He did the right thing by providing the footage to us and an explanation note. When we reached out to him through the news media and asked for him to help us, he responded and helped us."
Sheriff's officials said they had received more than 50 different tips since they released the images of at least eight suspects allegedly involved in the assaults, which are believed to have taken place between 2007 and 2009.
"We've had an overwhelming response of quality information that has reached the detectives and is keeping them very, very busy," said Capt. Mike Parker of the sheriff's Headquarters Bureau. "They're not getting any sleep. Please keep the calls and tips coming. This is exactly what we wanted."
Hoping the public could help identify the suspects, sheriff's officials released still images and composite drawings of at least eight men suspected in attacks on 10 of the disabled women.
Ernie Lloyd, 27, of Los Angeles was arrested Saturday after he turned himself in to Los Angeles police in Hollywood, Parker said. Lloyd is the man described as "Suspect #1" in images released Thursday by the Sheriff's Department.
Lloyd is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail after being arrested on suspicion of rape of a person with disabilities.
Bert Hicks of Los Angeles, currently serving a sentence in Tehachapi state prison until 2012, was identified by an LAPD detective who handled a previous case in which Hicks was convicted of lewd and lascivious acts on a dependent adult. Sheriff's officials say he is Suspect #4 in the images released last week.
The investigation began in March when a package was left at sheriff’s headquarters with 100 hours of video footage showing severely disabled women, many in diapers, being sexually assaulted by unknown men.
The attacks on the women, ages 20 to 40, appeared to have taken place at residential care centers from 2007 to 2009, authorities said, and most of the attackers are believed to be employees.
Although authorities were confident the scenes were shot in residential care facilities, it was unclear if they were in Los Angeles County. Much of the footage is so grainy that only the faces of four of the estimated 10 men could be seen.
Although sheriff's officials cautioned that they are in the early stages of their investigation, Parker said they believe the assault allegedly involving Lloyd took place at a Los Angeles facility.
The booking photo of Suspect #1 Ernie Lloyd has also been provided with this update. The investigation involving Suspect Lloyd is continuing, as are many other investigative leads on several cases.
Suspect #4, Bert Hicks, is serving a sentence in state prison and is due to be released in 2012. He has not been arrested by the Sheriff's Department and therefore there is no booking photo for him. His case is under active investigation by the Sheriff's Department and LAPD.
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Ernie Lloyd is a suspect in a case involving the sexual abuse of at least 10 severely disabled women. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department