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Porter Ranch predator may have more victims

February 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Investigators launched a search Tuesday for other possible victims of a suspected sexual predator.

Detectives say they have linked one alleged victim to the suspect, and want to know if there could be more.

Marcelino Tinajero, 33, is behind bars facing multiple counts of sex crimes against a minor.

Detectives arrested Tinajero late last month. Police say they launched an investigation into Tinajero after the parents of a 16-year-old girl filed a crime report against him, alleging he had an ongoing sexual relationship with the minor.

Investigators say Tinajero met the girl while he was a volunteer youth counselor with Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch.

"At this point that's the only child that has come forward," said Det. Michael Brox from the LAPD. "The purpose of this conference is to reach out, and the photographs we have for the purposes of people to look back and draw on their memories to see if they had any contact with this individual in the past."

"Sick to my stomach and sad," said Shepherd of the Hills Pastor Tim Winters of the alleged crime. He says the church did the necessary criminal background check before allowing Tinajero to serve as a youth councelor and everything came back fine.

Investigators say Tinajero had been a member of the church for nearly a year and a half. They say it appears the suspect engaged in an alleged sexual relationship with the minor for about six months.

"That volunteer was dismissed immediately once the church was made aware of the allegations," said Pastor Winters. "The church has also conducted an investigation and believes there is no continuing risk to anyone who attends our church."

"My first response was we need to get on our knees," said Church Prayer Director Jane Kasel. "One of the things that I've been comfortable about is our Children's Department does background checks on every volunteer. We do all the precautionary things that you can do."

Detectives want to hear from anyone who thinks they may have been victimized. Anyone with information is asked to call the LAPD at 877-LAPD-24-7.