Culver City man arrested on suspicion of raping 15-year-old girl

Culver City man arrested on suspicion of rape after 15-year-old-girl missing for three weeks is found

A Culver City man has been arrested on suspicion of raping a 15-year-old girl who was reported missing three weeks ago and was found Monday, Los Angeles police said.

Samuel Robert Duran Jr., 33, was detained for questioning Monday, formally booked on suspicion of multiple counts of rape at 4:20 a.m. Tuesday and was being held in lieu of $8-million bail, according to records released by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The girl vanished March 24 after leaving her Mar Vista home and was reunited with her mother Monday, Los Angeles Police Lt. John Jenal said.

The Times previously named the girl in reporting on her disappearance. Since police have booked Duran on suspicion of raping her, The Times is adhering to its policy not to identify victims of alleged sexual assault.

She was the subject of an intensive search by Los Angeles police and the FBI, in cooperation with her family, and those efforts received widespread coverage by the media, including The Times.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said Tuesday morning that many unanswered questions remained about the girl's disappearance, including how she met Duran. Smith said detectives — who are working with the FBI and Culver City police — were able to locate the girl at a Culver City house, where she may have been during the three weeks she was missing.

When asked what allegations would result in such a large bail for the suspect, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck declined to discuss the details of the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

“The allegations are very serious because of the age of the victim here,” he told reporters Tuesday.

On Tuesday, officials said only that Duran had been booked on suspicion of multiple counts of rape. The department is investigating to determine if others might have been involved. “If there are other suspects, we will work to get them in custody,” Beck said.

A source familiar with the investigation, who was not authorized to publicly discuss it, said that investigators were able to locate the child after she communicated with a relative using a cellphone.

The mother recently told The Times that her daughter disappeared after a disagreement over the teen’s cellphone. The mother said her daughter has autism and other cognitive issues that make her quick to anger and prone to impulsive behavior. After her child’s disappearance, her mother set up a Facebook page to seek public help in finding her and enlisted missing children’s groups to publicize the search.

Duran, according to records and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, was convicted of the sale or manufacture of a dangerous weapon in 1999 and received 10 days in jail and three years’ probation. In 2005, he was charged with possession of marijuana in Orange County, records show.

Follow @lacrimes and @katemather for more Southern California crime news.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATED

7:54 p.m.: This post was updated with a comment from a source familiar with the investigation and information on the suspect's past criminal record.

This post was originally published at 3:28 p.m.

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