ENCINO (CBSLA.com) — Detectives Thursday released the identities of a teenager and two men who are accused of sexually exploiting a 12-year-old girl.
Steven Fernandez, 15, of Compton, Jose Barajas, 22, and Keelan Lamar Dadd, 27, were arrested and charged with committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Fernandez is a well-known skateboarder with a large following on Twitter and Instagram. He also markets the popular clothing label Honey Brand. Barajas is his manager and Dadd is a fellow professional skater.
Fernandez is accused of using his celebrity status to lure the girl into a car being driven by Barajas on Ventura Boulevard on Nov. 13. Police allege that he promised her fame and even an appearance spot on a nonexistent MTV special in exchange for sex acts.
Four days later, detectives posing as the girl arranged to meet Fernandez and Barajas at an abandoned home allegedly for sex, police said. Both were subsequently arrested during the sting operation. Dadd accompanied by an attorney turned himself into police Dec. 3.
Barajas and Dadd have posted bail and are awaiting arraignment.
Fernandez was released to his mother and was ordered to wear an ankle tracker pending his court appearance as he is a minor.
Attorney Ryan D’Ambrosio, who is representing Fernandez, issued a statement that reads in part: “Steven is as much of a victim in this case as the other minor. Once the investigation is complete, I think evidence will show that Steven’s celebrity status was preyed on by the adults who were arrested in this matter. We won’t be making further statements until the investigation is complete.”
“Fernandez and his buddies used his fame and brand to sexually exploit the very girls who made them rich and famous,” said Det. Ninette Toosbuy of the West Valley Detective Division. “We want parents to look at the names and pictures of the defendants and ask their daughters if there’s been any contact.”
“I don’t think he would do that to be honest,” said Daniel Todd, who used to skate with Fernandez.
His mother also knows the professional skaters and agrees.
“I know both of them and I think neither one of them are capable of even thinking about doing something like that ever,” Karen Todd, an acquaintance, said.
Police are searching for other possible victims and took the unusual step of releasing the mugshot of Fernandez, a minor.
Anyone with more information about this case was asked to call the LAPD at (877) 527-3247.