Ride-share driver suspected of sexually assaulting 13-year-old in Van Nuys

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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Police sought the public's help to identify additional possible victims of a 37-year-old ride-share driver suspected of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old in Van Nuys.

VAN NUYS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Police on Monday sought the public's help to identify additional possible victims of a 37-year-old ride-share driver suspected of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old in Van Nuys.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the victim was walking home in the area of Gilmore Street and Sylmar Avenue, near Van Nuys Elementary School, on Aug. 13 when the suspect drove up next to the victim in a 2021 white Toyota Prius.

Police say the suspect, Jonh Erik Bastidas Arenas, opened the passenger door of the Prius, brandished a weapon and directed the victim to enter the car.

"Out of fear the victim complied with his demand," LAPD said in a news release. "While inside the vehicle, the suspect sexually assaulted the victim."

LAPD said the victim was able to escape and notify police.

Investigators reviewed surveillance video from the area and identified Arenas as a suspect, and the victim later confirmed Arenas was the attacker, according to the LAPD.

Police arrested Arenas on Thursday and he was booked into the LAPD Van Nuys Community Police Station jail. Investigators also discovered Arenas had been employed as a contract driver for multiple ride-share services since September 2021.

Anyone with information on any possible further assaults committed by Arenas was asked to call LAPD.

City News Service contributed to this report.