A pro skater and his buddies used his fame to coerce a 12-year-old girl into having sex with them, police said.
The skateboarding suspect is 15-year-old Steven Fernandez, profiled by L.A. Weekly in our People issue earlier this year. At the time he had taken to calling himself Baby Scumbag. ""I like big booty girls," he told us.
Cops allege that the Compton resident called the victim over to a vehicle he was in on Ventura Boulevard and "used his celebrity as a skater to ... get her into the car," according to an Los Angeles Police Department statement.
Driving the vehicle was 22-year-old Jose Barajas, Fernandez’s manager, authorities said.
"Fernandez promised to introduce the girl to A-list performers and appear in Fernandez’s nonexistent MTV special in return for her engaging in sexual acts" with his friends, including Barajas and fellow pro Keelan Lamar Dadd, 27, cops alleged in the statement.
Somehow cops found out about the girl's accusations and started investigating the case Nov. 13, the LAPD said.
Detectives set up a sting Nov. 17 in which they posed as the victim and texted that she wanted to meet up "at an abandoned home for sex," the LAPD stated.
All three suspects were eventually arrested, cops said.
Dadd, accompanied by his attorney, turned himself in earlier this month, they said. He and Barajas have bailed out while Fernandez was released to his mother "and ordered to wear an ankle tracker" until a judge says otherwise, according to the statement
Bail for Barajas was set at $475,000, police said. Dadd's bail was $200,000. All three suspects were charged with suspicion of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14, police said.
Authorities usually don't release the names of suspects who are younger than 18, but police said this was a special case.
"Yes, it’s unusual that we would release the name and photo of an arrested minor," said Det. Ninette Toosbuy of the LAPD's West Valley Division. “But state law provides for such exceptions in cases where the perpetrator sexually targeted minors."
Investigators indicated there might be more victims out there and, if there are, they want them to come forward.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"Fernandez and his buddies used his fame and brand to sexually exploit the very girls who made the men rich and famous," the detective said. "We’re taking exceptional measures to find additional victims because the fate of some young lives may be at stake. We want parents to look at the names and pictures of the defendants and ask their daughters if there’s been any contact. The suspects tended to cruise West San Fernando Valley, Hollywood and Compton, looking for young girls to solicit."
Fernandez has 1 million followers on Instagram. In March a Downey mall appearance was shut down by police because it was overrun by his young fans.
Interestingly, two weeks ago he said on Instagram that he had to travel to Mexico because of a "family emergency."
Anyone who has information on the suspects was asked to call detectives at 818-374-7718.