Fullerton Police arrested Jose Guadalupe Jimenez, 41, in Newport Beach after DNA evidence matched him to the case. Dozens of costumes and masks were seized from his Anaheim home as evidence after his arrest.
Police say the victim was snatched by a man in a clown mask and wearing clown makeup on the corner of Lemon Street and Commonwealth Avenue just before midnight on Jan. 19, 2002. He drove her to a nearby school parking lot and raped her, then took her to a motel off Harbor Boulevard and molested her again. The girl escaped when he went to the motel's front office.
"She was abducted and raped by an unknown man that at the time was only described as wearing a clown outfit," said Fullerton Police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.
Investigators collected the suspect's DNA and placed it in a database. There were no leads, until Jimenez was arrested last year in Anaheim. He pleaded not guilty to striking a child, a relative of his.
"His DNA was taken from that arrest, was put in the system, and then a few months later we got a hit, in February," said Goodrich.
Jimenez performed for years as a clown named "El Tin Larin," after a type of cookie, for at least nine years.
"If you have a person willing to grab a 12-year-old girl and sexually assault her, no telling how many potential victims we might have," said Goodrich.
Anyone with information about Jimenez is urged to call the Fullerton Police Department at (714) 738-5327.