UPDATE, APRIL 4, 3:24 P.M.: U.S. Customs & Border Protection officer Miguel Lerma Jr. has been charged with one felony count each of forcible rape, sodomy by force and forcible oral copulation for allegedly attacking a woman in Garden Grove, plus one felony count of rape by use of drugs for the accusations involving a woman in Long Beach.
If convicted, Lerma could get up to 32 years in state prison, according to the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA), which also noted the 29-year-old is being held in lieu of $1 million bail before his arraignment is scheduled to continue April 18 in Westminster.
The OCDA statement on the charges follows:
April 4, 2011
U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION OFFICER CHARGED WITH RAPING TWO WOMEN
*Law enforcement is seeking the public's help identifying potential additional victims
WESTMINSTER – A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer has been charged with sexually assaulting two women. Miguel Lerma Jr., 31, Fountain Valley, is charged with one felony count each of forcible rape, sodomy by force, and forcible oral copulation for Jane Doe #1 and one felony count of rape by use of drugs for Jane Doe #2. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 32 years in state prison. Lerma is being held on $1 million bail and is scheduled for continued arraignment April 18, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-14, West Justice Center, Westminster.
At the time of the sexual assaults, Lerma was employed as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
On Sept. 10, 2010, Lerma is accused of meeting Jane Doe #2 while she was out drinking with a friend in Long Beach. Over the course of the night, Jane Doe #2 became intoxicated due to alcohol and blacked out. While the victim was unconscious from alcohol intoxication, Lerma is accused of raping her. She did not know the defendant prior to this evening. The victim later awoke lying in the bushes alone.
Jane Doe #2 reported the rape and Lerma was interviewed and submitted a DNA swab as part of the investigation. The investigation for the rape of Jane Doe #2 was still ongoing and had not been charged by the Los Angeles County's Office as of November 2010.
On Nov. 14, 2010, Lerma is accused of picking up prostitute Jane Doe #1, driving her to an industrial area in Garden Grove, and parking the car. The victim, who did not know the defendant, became frightened and tried to get out of the vehicle. Lerma is accused of getting out of the car, forcing Jane Doe #1 to orally copulate him and forcibly raping and sodomizing her while outside of the car. He is accused of then getting back into his car and fleeing the scene.
Jane Doe #1 immediately reported the sexual assault to the police. DNA was collected from the rape examination. On March 15, 2011, the DNA from the attack on Jane Doe #1 was linked to the DNA provided by Lerma for the rape of Jane Doe #2.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting Lerma for the Orange and Los Angeles County victims. The Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD) and Long Beach Police Department investigated their respective cases.
Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Lou Gutierrez at (714) 347-8794 or GGPD Detective Dave Young at (714) 741-5836.
Deputy District Attorney Eric Scarbrough of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.
|Courtesy of GGPD|
|Miguel Lerma Jr.|
ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 1, 5:30 P.M.: 29-year-old Miguel Lerma Jr., a U.S. Customs & Border Protection officer who resides in Fountain Valley, is accused of making terrorist threats and sexually assaulting women in Garden Grove in 2010 and Long Beach in 2009.
He was arrested at his home Thursday after DNA evidence allegedly tied him to the crimes, according to authorities.
After Lerma was tied to the Long Beach assault, his DNA was linked to the attack in Garden Grove, according to cops in both towns working with internal affairs within the Department of Homeland Security.
He has since been placed on administrative leave from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which vows to be cooperating in the investigation.
In the Garden Grove case, Lerma allegedly assaulted a 20-year-old woman in the 11800 block of Cardinal Circle after picking her up on Nov. 14, 2010, on Harbor Boulevard in Santa Ana.
Lerma was last reported being held at Orange County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
Anyone with information about other possible assaults is asked to contact Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD) Detective Dave Young at 714.741.5836 or the department's 24-hour line at 714.741.5704.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.