Lake Forest residentRachel Ann Hicks
, 36, signed a court waiver last week allowing her to be extradited to Maryland to answer to charges she had sex with a 13-year-old boy in his bedroom around Thanksgiving 2010.
Hicks was being held without bail in Orange County for the second-degree rape and sexual solicitation of a minor charges out of Harford County, Maryland, where a prosecutor has expressed outrage over some comments to the media coverage of the case.
"There's a lot of talk about the fact that he was a boy and she was a woman, but we are taking this as seriously as we would if it had been a man that had come out here for a girl," Maryland Assistant State's Attorney Diane Tobin tells Spencer Kornhaber of Lake Forest Patch. "We've seen many boys who have been victims of sexual abuse, and they've been devastated. . . . This is a very vulnerable victim, and [Hicks] took advantage."
Tobin added the victim's family in Maryland is "obviously in shock about the whole situation."
"These parents were very aware; they found out about it and brought it to us," the prosecutor said. "They didn't do anything wrong."
Update, Jan. 11, 2:11 p.m.: Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) "provided substantial assistance in the investigation and arrest of Rachel Ann Hicks," the agency maintains in a press statement.
Echoing the Orange County
district attorney's office Sheriff's Department, the agent in charge of HSI in Orange County fears the 36-year-old Lake Forest resident may have preyed on other children.
"We're extremely concerned there may be more young victims in this case who've not yet been identified and are continuing to assist our law- enforcement partners with this ongoing investigation," says Joseph Macias, assistant special agent in charge of ICE's HSI in Orange County, in the statement.
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He continues, "Pedophiles who mistakenly believe they can evade the law by going out of state to sexually exploit innocent children should know we're using every tool at our disposal to keep our young people safe---whether they are around the block or around the world."
Original Post, Jan. 10, 9:09 a.m.: The child-rape bust of a 36-year-old Lake Forest resident is unique on two counts: the suspect is a woman, and she is alleged to have traveled to Maryland to molest and rape a 13-year-old boy she met via an X-Box live chat room.
As the Orange County Sheriff's Department announcement below shows, Rachel Ann Hicks is said to have told investigators she also preyed on a second boy, a Californian under the age of 18.
Jan. 7, 2011Interstate Child MolestationRachel Ann Hicks, 36, of Lake Forest was taken into custody today by Orange County Sheriff's Investigators on suspicion of child molestation and rape. She is accused of having befriended a 13-year old Maryland boy on the Internet and traveling to his home and engaging in sexual relations with him.
On Jan. 4, 2011, Sheriff's Investigator Wade Walsvick was contacted by Maryland State Trooper Eric Workman. Workman reported that the initial contact between Hicks and her victim took place in September via an X-Box live chat room. The online relationship progressed to phone calls, texting, e-mails, and sending sexually explicit images and movies between each other. Hicks told the boy she was 23 years old and flew to Maryland to meet him at his home, where they engaged in sexual intercourse over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Shortly thereafter, the victim's family discovered "romantic" text messages on the boy's cell phone, and he disclosed what had occurred. Despite the use of a false name and bogus age, investigators were able to identify Hicks through the assistance of an ICE special agent. The ICE agent obtained subscriber information related to the Hicks family cell phone. Identification of Hicks was successfully accomplished by Workman, who also obtained a "no bail" warrant for the arrest of Hicks on two counts of rape, one count of a second-degree "sex offense" and one count of sexual solicitation of a minor.
On Jan. 7, 2011, investigators from the OCSD Special Victims Detail and members of (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations Child Exploitation Unit served a search warrant on Hicks' residence. During the subsequent interview, Hicks admitted to one additional minor male victim located in the state of California. Hicks was subsequently arrested without incident. All the evidence collected will be forwarded to Hanford County Sheriff's office for its investigation.
Based on new information, investigators are seeking to identify a second possible victim, a California boy under the age of 18.