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L.A. authorities find first victim in videotaped sexual assaults

By Michael Martinez, CNN
  • The victim is a 25-year-old woman now living in a Los Angeles County care home
  • She alleges a suspect now in custody sexually assaulted her in another care facility where both of them had lived
  • More than 100 hours of videotape mailed to police showed graphic footage of severely disabled women being sexually assaulted

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Investigators have found the first victim in the videotaped sexual assaults of severely disabled women, and the woman alleges a suspect already in custody had raped her in a Los Angeles care home, authorities said.

The woman, 25, now resides in another Los Angeles County residential care facility. Her medical condition causes her to be physically defenseless, Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators said.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office has asked detectives for more medical information on the victim, and investigators were expected to turn over that information to prosecutors Wednesday, authorities said.

The woman, found by state investigators Monday, made the sexual assault allegation against Ernie Lloyd, 27, who had turned himself in Saturday following widespread media coverage of the videotaped sexual assaults and a manhunt for four suspects depicted in police sketches. Lloyd was charged with rape of a person with disabilities Saturday after he "implicated himself," authorities said.

"This is a rapidly evolving case," said Sgt. Dan Scott of the sheriff's special victims bureau in a statement.

"There is so much videotaped evidence, so many victims, so many suspects, and so many quality leads that keep pouring in. The amount of detailed investigative work required to be done on every aspect of this case is very much a challenge. This case is as extraordinary as it is tragic and deeply disturbing," Scott said.

Authorities were able to draw composites of two more suspects seen in the grainy video, and they believe at least six other men were involved in the sexual assaults on a total of at least eight women with severe disabilities, investigators said.

The victim alleged that she was sexually assaulted a few years ago by Lloyd at a care facility where they both previously lived as residents, authorities said.

"Her interview on Monday with sheriff's special victims bureau detectives was very emotional and painful for her," according to a statement by the sheriff's office. "Detectives described her as very traumatized. She is being provided with victim assistance."

Authorities were not releasing the woman's name or the location of her current care home.

"She said she feels safe at the residential care facility where she is now living," authorities said in a statement.

The woman had also been sexually assaulted by another suspect in the case, authorities said.

That suspect, Bert Hicks, 41, is now serving a state prison sentence in Tehachapi, California, for fiduciary crimes, abuse and sexual assault against the woman in a Los Angeles residential care facility, authorities said.

That case was investigated by city of Los Angeles detectives in 2007 and 2009. The 2009 case led to the conviction of Hicks, who was an employee at that facility, authorities said.

The woman said Hicks had taken her to and married her at an unknown place that authorities earlier said was Las Vegas, investigators said.

Hicks then brought her back to the care home, where she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Lloyd and repeatedly sexually assaulted by Hicks, authorities said.

Investigators haven't determined whether Hicks' crimes are the same ones depicted on 100 hours of video that a tipster mailed to authorities last March, detectives said.

Investigators have received more than 70 "quality" leads from the public and other law agencies, Los Angeles County authorities said. Some tips came from other parts of the state and nation and are being reviewed with the law officers from those areas, authorities said.