LOS ANGELES—Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau held a press conference on November 30, to inform the public about a series of sexual assaults involving female victims throughout Los Angeles County.

The LASD reported on February 2, 2021, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies assigned to the Walnut Sheriff’s Station responded to the 17000 block of Colima Road in Walnut regarding a call of a forcible rape involving two adult female victims and a male adult suspect. The suspect was invited to the victim’s home after meeting on Instagram.

Once there, the suspect forcibly raped one of the females and robbed them of their cell phones and, at pistol point, demanded their usernames and passwords. The suspect fled the scene in a dark gray sedan. He later re-contacted one of the victims via social media and sent threatening messages to her. The suspect accessed her phone, impersonated the victim on social media, and extorted money from the victim by threatening to post nude images obtained from her phone. The case was assigned to detectives for follow-up investigation.

During the investigation, DNA evidence was obtained linking the suspect to similar reported incidents within Los Angeles, Hollywood, East Los Angeles, and Inglewood. The incidents shared a common tactic wherein the suspect initiated communication with the victims via Instagram, lured them to various locations where the victims were sexually assaulted.

Detectives from the LASD’s Special Victims Bureau worked in collaboration with detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department and Inglewood Police Department and identified 12 separate incidents occurring in an approximate a two-year period. Thirteen female victims were identified, four of which were minors. The suspect was identified as Michael Watson Jr., 21, from Los Angeles.

On September 16, 2022, detectives presented their cases to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for consideration of a criminal complaint filing.

On September 27, 2022, the District Attorney’s Office filed 16 felony counts including one count of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child under 14, three counts of Forcible Rape, one count of Assault with a Deadly Weapon (Firearm), four counts of Attempted Extortion, and one count of Grand Theft, under Court Case Number TA158484, and an arrest warrant was issued by the court.

On November 8, 2022, at approximately 2 p.m., detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’ Major Crimes Bureau Fugitive Task Force arrested the suspect in the Antelope Valley. Watson, Jr. was booked at the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station.

On November 10, 2022, the suspect was arraigned at the Compton Courthouse. He remains in custody with his bail set at $1,790,000. His next scheduled court date is January 12, 2023, at the Compton Courthouse.

Based on the nature of the offenses, detectives believe there may be additional unidentified victims and are seeking the public’s help in identifying any such victims.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department – Special Victims Bureau is tasked with investigating the sexual and physical abuse of children and felonious sexual assaults involving adult victims.  Anyone with details about any of the incidents is asked to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Victims Bureau toll-free tip line at (877) 710-5273 or by email at specialvictimsbureau@lasd.org.

To remain anonymous call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477) or use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP or “P3 Mobile” for the hearing impaired on Google Play or the App Store, or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.