Updated at the bottom with creepy details from Downs' Facebook and Formspring profiles.
No, this is not a scene from that Clive Owen movie about what your tween daughter is really doing on her smartphone all day.
Michael Downs' sweeping sexual-assault charges are scary real. Within one week, on a tip from a minor who said she was raped by the Santa Clarita 19-year-old earlier this year, detectives with the Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau say they quickly “identified an additional 13 female teenage victims, between the ages of 12 and 16 years old.”
And there could be more girls who haven't come forward yet:
“For over a week we have found new victims every day as we investigate these crimes,” Lieutenant Carlos Marquez says in a press release. “We are asking the public to have some difficult discussions with their kids and contact us if there are more victims.”
Here's how the serial rapist allegedly lures his prey into his sex trap.
Detectives learned that Suspect Downs met the victims at social events, public places and on Facebook. The assaults occurred throughout the year 2011 at various locations throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.
The suspect met many of the victims on the social networking site Facebook. His alleged approach was befriending his victims on Facebook. He did so by claiming he was 16-years old and gaining their confidence in part by giving the names of other teen girls and saying he was friends with them. He would ultimately convince them to meet with him and then allegedly had sex with them.
On what appears to be Downs' Facebook profile — assumedly the same one he used to carry out his (alleged) crimes; we kind of feel dirty just looking at it — he lists himself as a senior at Bowman High in Santa Clarita, where he was reportedly arrested on December 15. (Sheriff's investigators say his victims were from nearby middle- and high schools.)
His online profile also shows he's an employee at Wendy's. And, most horrifyingly, “Getting Naked” is listed as one of his “Activities.”
KHTS news radio has his charges in full:
Ten of the counts involve four additional girls on mutliple charges of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse, Oral Copulation Of A Person Under 16, and Sexual Penetration By A Foreign Object.
Downs is being charged on one count of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a twelfth victim who is also a minor.
… There is an additional count for Sending Harmful Matter which involves distributing and exhibiting harmful matter to a minor “with the intent of arousing, appealing to and gratifying the lust, passions and sexual desires of defendant(s) and of a minor, and with the intent and for the purpose of seducing a minor.”
The lesson for parents, widely spouted by Internet-predator experts on the radio this morning, is never let your daughter out of sight. And definitely read her texts/emails, despite the risk of losing her trust forever. More guidelines available via the Federal Trade Commission's official “Social Networking Sites: A Parent's Guide.”
Update: So we just found Downs' profile on Formspring, and it's even creepier (see photo, below).
About four months ago, when another user asked him, “So who are you dating now? Another 12 year old?”, Downs answered, “Hahahahaha good one faggot xD”. And when someone else called him a pedophile, he answered, “Yes ;)”.
Another chilling interaction:
Q: “Glad you finally admitted you're a pedophile, pervert. You plan on getting a 13 year old pregnant this time? Or just hanging out at the mall with junior high kids? Do you even have a job?”
A: “1. I dont hang out with any junior high kids
2. Is it messing up your personal life?
3. Yes I do 🙂
And awww thanks for caring enough to talk shit u must really not hate me if your still talking to me 😀 ur awesome”
Looks like his tendencies were public knowledge — just that no one had bothered to alert the Sheriff's Department until now.
The good news: Downs is currently under $1.8 million bail.