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Man charged in sexual assault of 14 girls in Santa Clarita Valley

December 20, 2011 | 10:29 pm

Michael Downs was arrested in sexual assault caseA Santa Clarita Valley man was charged with sexually assaulting 14 girls, one of them 12 years old, authorities said Tuesday night.

Michael Downs, 19, met many of the the girls on Facebook, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

Downs claimed he was 16 and allegedly gained the victims' confidence by saying he was friends with other teen girls whom he named. He would persuade the girls to meet him, the department said in a statement.

The girls were between 12 and 16 years old. 

Downs was charged with 29 counts of sexual assault, the department said. He was being held in lieu of $1.8-million bail.

Sheriff's Department detectives launched an investigation after a girl alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by Downs. 

 "For over a week, we have found new victims every day as we investigate these crimes," said Lt. Carlos Marquez of the department's Special Victims Bureau.

He said there may be other victims.

Anyone with information is asked to call bureau detectives at (866) 247-5877. Anonymous tips can be left at (800) 222-8477.


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Photo: Michael Downs. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department