LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Authorities say one of the men suspected of sexually assaulting one or more severely disabled women captured on video is already serving a sentence for sexual assault.
Bert Hicks, 42, is serving a sentence at Tehachapi State Prison for sexual assault and is up for parole next year, sheriff’s Detective Ron Anderson said. Sheriff’s officials say the composite sketches based on the video depict Hicks as suspect No. 4.
Hicks is reportedly married to a 25-year-old disabled woman pictured in some of the videos and was allegedly victimized by him and two unidentified men who are being sought.
A computer hard drive containing over 100 hours of video showing a sequence of sexual assaults on at least 10 disabled women was dropped off to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department last March. Its not known where and when the attacks took place, but at least one appeared to be a residential care facility.
Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department contacted the sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau after recognizing Hicks and possibly a second man, whose identity was not disclosed. The LAPD’s cases both involved sexual assault.
Sgt. Dan Scott says some of the videotaped attacked involved force with no consent from the disabled victims. One of the eight suspects also appears to have been disabled because he used a wheelchair at some type of hospital or care facility.
“When he wheeled himself the room, he used his arms to hoist himself onto the bed,” Scott said. “He removed his diaper. He removed the diaper of the victim. He engaged her in sexual activity, sexual assault. He then hoisted himself onto the floor, scooted across the floor, out the doorway and disappeared from the camera’s view.”
Detectives from both agencies are meeting Friday to collaborate on the cases.
Sheriff’s detectives are also in contact with the California Department of Social Services and Community Care Licensing in an effort to identify locations, suspects and victims.
Images of the victims will not be released.
CBS 2/KCAL 9′s Melissa Maynarich reported that a letter dropped off along with the hard drive containing the video footage said the computer was owned by “a black man”, who said he bought it from a “crack head in Inglewood for $20.” The computer was brought to the anonymous tipster to wipe the hard drive. Before doing so, he copied the videos and gave them to authorities.
Anyone with information about the assaults can contact the Special Victims Bureau at (866) 247-5877. Sheriff’s officials would also like to talk to the person who dropped off the footage and promise that person can remain anonymous.
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