Assault suspect promised victims fame

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. Police say they released the suspect's identity because they believe there are many more young women who could have been victimized.

The suspect is identified as 44-year-old Miguel Barrera, who went by the name of "Sergio" when he approached women.

Barrera told women that he was of Italian descent and that he was very well connected in Hollywood. He said that he could make the ladies stars.

Investigators say Barrera's ploy was targeting young women who were walking along the street, most of them by themselves, convincing them that he was the real deal. He would then tell the women that he needed to take photographs of them, claiming he was a professional photographer.

Investigators say Barrera would then take the women to motels in the North Hollywood area, along Ventura Boulevard. According to investigators, sexual assault was committed at the motels.

Officials say two assaults took place in 2008, and another back in 2005. The assault in 2005 allegedly happened to a girl who was only 14-years-old at the time.

"He came to the city of North Hollywood and the city of Hollywood ... picked up these victims and lured them into believing that they were going to be rich, wealthy ... their family was going to be wealthy. They were going to be models, successful ... and he sexually assaulted them," said Captain Sharyn Buck, Los Angeles Police Department.

"They were vulnerable. Some may argue that they were naïve, but it takes a great deal of courage for them to come forward and put their reputations on the line ... knowing that their actions are going to be scrutinized," said Detective J.D. Clifford, Los Angeles Police Department.

Barrera has been associated with driving two different vehicles. He has been linked to a 2005 Dodge pickup truck and a white four-door sedan.

Barrera is in custody. He was arraigned Tuesday morning on nine different felony counts for three separate assaults.

Barrera's bail is set $1 million. Detectives say Barrera would not be released, even if he made bail. They say he has been in the country illegally for about 22 years.

If anyone has any information, or may be a victim, you should call the Los Angeles Police Department at (877) LAW-FULL or (877) 529-3855.


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