Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station detectives are urging victims who have been harassed by someone texting them unwanted sexual images, to come forward and report the crime.
A detective can only investigate a complaint of that nature once a report is made to officials, authorities told The Signal on Tuesday.
The Sheriff’s Department’s plea for women to come forward with these allegations comes on the heels of a story published by The Signal on Saturday regarding several local women who claimed they’ve been victimized by a Saugus man texting them unwanted photographs of his penis.
One woman had filed a report as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, and several other women had made inquiries to the station’s front desk, as of about 7 p.m. on the same day, according to Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Station.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Lt. Ignacio Somoano, head of the Sheriff Station’s Detective Bureau, gave the following statement regarding the alleged incidents: “We were alerted to this situation via social media.
“Sending repeated communications with intent to annoy or harass, including messages or images, to an individual via any electronic device, is a crime,” he wrote in an email to The Signal. “If anyone in the Santa Clarita Valley has been a victim of this type of harassment, we encourage them to make a report with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.”
Section 653m of California’s Penal Code reads: Every person who, with intent to annoy, telephones or makes contact by means of an electronic communication device with another and addresses to or about the other person any obscene language or addresses to the other person any threat to inflict injury to the person or property of the person addressed or any member of his or her family, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Once a report is filed, detectives can then look into any reports of the man accused of texting photos of his penis to at least a half-dozen women, which provoked outrage among those victims now using social media as a tool to expose him.
A Facebook page created around a hashtag with the word “stop,” and the culprit’s name — which The Signal has chosen not to publish pending the criminal investigation — now has 332 members. It had about 160 as of Friday afternoon.
The women whom The Signal spoke with — all who had never met the man in question — want something done to stop him texting sexually explicit photos and videos. Additionally, several of those who complained about the behavior on social media said the man also knew some of his victims.
At least two women interviewed Friday by The Signal said they previously were told by sheriff’s deputies when contacted that nothing could be done about the texting since no violence or threat of violence had been made.
“We want him banned from using any kind of social media,” said Jackie Chowdhury, who vowed to not let fear stand in the way of her trying to stop the abuse. I worry about what happens if he finds out where I live,” she told The Signal Friday. “But that fear cannot hold me down — and, it cannot shut me up.”
Chowdhury wants other women victimized by the culprit’s actions to be emboldened by her initiative and to join her in calling for an end to the abuse.
Since The Signal story, other women have come forward to add their voices to the chorus calling for action.
The man singled out by women seeking action for his alleged texting of sexual images was convicted twice and sentenced each time in the last 10 years, according to court records available online and confirmed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
In 2007, he was convicted of one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. For that, he was sentenced to 180 days in jail and put on three years probation.
Deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station arrested him in February 2017, and he pleaded no contest to one count of domestic abuse, according to court records. For that, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and, again, put on 36 months probation.
One woman sent an email of gratitude to The Signal, describing the texter as “the worst kind of filth,” adding: ”Thanks for doing the story about (him). I appreciate you shining a light on him…… maybe his family will get him some help now…”
Another woman, who said she was victimized wrote: “I’m floored of the women that are coming out to say something… I’m happy and feel relieved. Now, I can speak up. I was too scared.”