19-year-old Michael Downs of Valencia faces 29 felony counts of sex crimes with a dozen minors according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office which filed a complaint yesterday.
Special Victims Bureau Detective Rich Simmons says he began his investigation the second week of December when victims reported the crimes to unnamed school officials. By the 15th Simmons felt he had enough information to take Downs into custody at his school Bowman High. Simmons said Downs appeared in court yesterday with bail set at $1.8 million.
Seventeen of the 29 counts are for Lewd Acts Upon A Child. Those charges involve seven different girls under the age of 14.
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.
“The age range of the victims was 12 to 16,” said Simmons. They attended local middle and high schools.
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.”.
“Harmful material can be anything lewd. It could be photos, it could be texts, it could be all sorts of stuff,” said Simmons.
According to Simmons’ investigation, Downs reportedly met his victims at the local mall and some victims were friends of friends.
“He hung out in a certain circle of girls and kind of got to know all of the girls that way,” Simmons said.
He would also use the computer.
“He used Facebook as one of his tools,” said Simmons.
On the social media website Formspring, Downs answers questions about himself and exchanges emails with girls whose profile names are similar to the victims. In the District Attorney’s complaint the victims are only identified by first name and last initial.
One question Downs, known online as Downs38, was asked:
“So who are you dating now? Another 12 year old?”
“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?”
- I dont (sic) hang out with any junior high kids
- Is it messing up your personal life?
- Yes I do
Downs’ relationships with minors were so well known on the site that one member allegedly created a Michael C Down (sic) Facebook page.
Downs38 responded to those members who were confused about who the page was created about:
“It was about me U idiot.”
Bayleeeboo defended Downs:
“I think it’s stupid. Yeah he’s made some bad choices, but we all do. Maybe not as bad but were still all human. People need to just drop it. They took it too far and it’s not cool or funny.”
“I thought it was funny at first but people started to take it to far, none the less he is a disgusting pedophile.”
The crime of Lewd Act Upon A Child is in violation of Penal Code Section 288 (a) and is described as a felony act committed by a defendant who did “willfully, unlawfully, and lewdly commit a lewd and lascivious act upon and with the body and certain parts and members thereof of the victim, a child under the age of fourteen years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, and gratifying the lust, passions, and sexual desires of the said defendant and the said child.”
The crime of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse is a violation of Penal Code Section 261.5(c), and is described as a felony act committed by a defendant, who engaged in an act of unlawful sexual intercourse with a the victim, a minor, not the spouse of the defendant, the minor being more than three years younger than the defendant.
The crime of Oral Copulation Of A Person Under 16, is a violation of Penal Code Section 288a(b)(2), and is described as a felony committed by a defendant, who did unlawfully, being over the age of 21 years, participate in an act of oral copulation with the victim, a person under the age of sixteen years.
Simmons said he believed the stipulation of the defendant needing to be over the age of 21 was a mistake.
The crime of Sexual Penetration By Foreign Object is in violation of Penal Code Section 289(h), and is described as a felony committed the defendant, who committed an act of sexual penetration against the victim, who was under the age of 18 years.
Downs is expected to appear in court January 11. Simmons says the investigation is ongoing.