An International Thriller
Twenty-eight-year-old Ben Ainsworth was a part-time soap-opera actor, a personal trainer and an aspiring rapper in his native Australia. Given his skill set, Ainsworth did what many young aspiring actors/personal trainers/rappers do: He packed his bags and moved to Hollywood. He also changed his name to Jake Adams, the handle of fictional former Air Force intelligence and CIA agent and hero of real-life former Air Force captain Trevor Scotts IBooks-published Jake Adams International Thriller series.
Once here, the 5-foot-11-inch, 225-pound Australian checked into the $18-a-night Hollywood International Hostel on Hollywood Boulevard, across from the Kodak Theater. Ainsworth was known to knock back a few drinks at Boardners and frequent Grecos New York Pizzeria, which is located next to the hostel. According to one pizzeria employee, Ainsworth showed up drunk late one night, punched the counter and yelled, "Do you know who I am? I am a badass. I am a criminal." The employee said he got a kick out of him.
"The guy was a little tough," said one of the hostels boarders. "He was like a lot of the people who come here. They are good-looking, and they believe they can make it in Hollywood."
According to his résumé, Ainsworth kept somewhat busy with extra work and bit parts in B movies, including Lords of Dogtown, The Good Life and Tennis, Anyone . . . ? Meanwhile, back in Australia, he was a wanted man, and not for his acting or rapping skills.
A warrant was issued for Ainsworths arrest after he missed a February court appearance in his hometown of Adelaide. He was being sought for the alleged rape and attempted rape at knifepoint of three young Asian women in the South Australian city. The crimes were committed between July 2000 and October 2003. Australian authorities charged Ainsworth last April with one count of non-aggravated serious criminal trespass, three counts of rape and one count of false imprisonment.
Australian authorities believe Ainsworth bolted the same day his fiancée was interviewed by police. But his location remained a mystery. Adelaide detectives got a significant lead in June when they recovered a post card that Ainsworth sent to his mother. Although it had a fake return address, the post card bore a Hollywood postmark, prompting Adelaide detectives to alert Interpol, which in turn contacted the Los Angeles Regional Fugitive Task Force.
"All we had was that he was a blond, blue-eyed, good-looking wannabe actor living in Hollywood," said Tony Burke, the supervising inspector with the U.S. Marshals Service, who led the hunt for Ainsworth in L.A. "I thought: Thats great. Along with 10,000 other people."
The U.S. Marshals Service began to scour Hollywood gyms, but failed to find Ainsworth. Frustrated, Burke contacted the Adelaide detective handling the case, who told him that the last alleged assault occurred at a hostel. On December 15, Burke went undercover and found out that Ainsworth was staying in Room 18 at the Hollywood International Hostel. Before he could make an arrest, Burke needed a provisional warrant.
"I got the U.S. Attorneys Office out of bed," said Burke. "They worked till 2 or 3 in the morning writing up the warrant. I then had to get a federal judge out of bed at 3:30 a.m. I was good to go."
Not so fast. When Burke and his men arrived to make the collar, Ainsworth was gone. The task force clung to the hope that he would return, because he left his backpack and head shots in his room. So they waited. Thirty hours later, just after midnight on December 17, they arrested Ainsworth as he was walking down Hollywood Boulevard toward the hostel.
"He needed to be subdued," said Burke. "He was kicking, screaming and fighting."
Ainsworth appeared in a U.S. federal court December 23, where he was remanded into federal custody at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown L.A. pending extradition back to Australia. In the interim, LAPD detectives are investigating whether Ainsworth, who arrived in L.A. almost a year ago after a brief stay in Osaka, Japan, is responsible for any rapes here in the last year. Clearly, the real fictional Jake Adams wouldnt approve.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.