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2 suspects ID'd in assaults on disabled women

January 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department said Friday two suspects have been identified in a series of sexual assaults against disabled women who couldn't fight back. One suspect was identified as 42-year-old Bert Hicks of Los Angeles. Police say he is serving time two felony sex counts and two abuse counts. He is currently imprisoned at Tehachapi State Prison and scheduled for release in 2012.

LAPD detectives saw the story on Thursday about the sheriff's department investigation, and they called because Hicks was serving time for sexual assault in an LAPD case. The sheriff's department is not releasing the name of the facility where they believe Hicks worked.

Detectives say one of the victims was Hicks' 25-year-old wife.

"There are three different suspects, or individuals who have sexually assaulted one woman in particular at that location," said L.A. County Sheriff's Det. Ron Anderson.

It's unclear if the incident in the LAPD case is one of the assaults shown in video footage dropped off at the sheriff's station.

"LAPD is putting their case together so that we can sit down and compare the two. We don't know if they're overlapping cases or what," said L.A. County Sheriff's Sgt. Dan Scott.

A second suspect was identified, but officials say they are not ready to release the name yet.

At least 10 severely disabled women were sexually assaulted at residential care facilities, and the incidents were videotaped. Some of the video is from surveillance cameras; other video is from handheld cameras.

The video came from 11 DVDs that an anonymous tipster dropped off in March at the sheriff's station in Monterey Park. Several locations are shown in the videos. Detectives have reviewed more than 100 hours of video.

Authorities do not know when or where the sexual assaults occurred, but authorities believe that most of the suspects are employees of the facilities. They believe the assaults most likely happened in the Southern California area.

In an effort to identify the attackers and their victims, investigators released sketches of four of the suspects on Thursday. They say up to six other people could be involved, but they could only produce sketches of the four.

Detectives say one suspect shown in a still photograph taken from the video appears to be a paraplegic. In the video, he appeared to wheel himself into a victim's room and use his arms to hoist himself on the bed, police said.

Detectives believe the sexual assaults happened over the last three years.

They want to talk to the person who hand-delivered the DVDs to sheriff's headquarters in Monterey Park in March 2010.

If you can identify any of the suspects in the sketches, please call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (800-222-8477).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.