INS Agent Suspected in Rapes of Latinas : Investigations: The officer, accused in one attack, targeted women while he was off-duty but using an official car, authorities say.
An Immigration and Naturalization Service agent charged with abducting and raping a Latina is a suspect in several other rapes, according to authorities who on Wednesday publicly asked for other unknown victims to come forward.
Los Angeles police said they would seek additional charges against James Edward Riley, 32, of Reseda as early as today.
“We have talked to several victims,” Lt. Dennis Dunn said. “We think there may be more.”
Riley, 32, was arrested at 4:30 a.m. Saturday at his Reseda apartment after a one-month investigation that began after a 24-year-old Sepulveda woman told police that he had abducted and raped her. Riley pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of kidnap, rape and rape under color of law--meaning he used his position as a federal agent to commit the crime.
Dunn said evidence gathered during Riley’s arrest led to the identification of several other women who, when contacted by police, said they had been arrested by Riley and taken to his apartment and raped.
Dunn said the incidents under investigation dated from September. Dunn refused to disclose the number of victims police have contacted or to describe the evidence that led investigators to them.
Investigators have also contacted police agencies in Gardena, where Riley previously worked for the INS, and in Ventura County, where he had a traffic accident last month while driving a federal car. Investigators have asked the agencies to check for possible rape cases involving the INS agent.
Dunn said that generally in each of the incidents under investigation, Riley is alleged to have approached a Latina on the street while he was off-duty but driving his federal car. Police allege that Riley, who is bilingual, showed his INS badge and, after determining the woman had no green card or legal status for being in the United States, placed her under arrest.
“He used his badge,” Dunn said. “That’s how he got them to get in his car.”
The woman reported that Riley took her to the apartment in Reseda, where she was assaulted before being released, Dunn said.
On Wednesday, detectives were still completing investigations involving alleged victims located after Riley’s arrest, but Dunn said they expect to ask the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office for additional charges against Riley today.
“There are others that are being investigated,” Assistant Head Deputy Dist. Atty. James A. Baker said. “There is a substantial possibility other charges will be filed.”
Riley remains in Los Angeles County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail. INS spokesman Ron Rogers said Riley, who began work as an INS agent in 1987, requested and was granted a leave of absence after his arrest. Riley is the subject of an internal investigation by federal authorities, Rogers said. He declined further comment.
Police refused to divulge many details of the abductions, saying that to do so might hamper the investigation.
The investigation was prompted April 12 when the Sepulveda woman made a rape report several hours after she reportedly had been freed by Riley.
Dunn said the woman has been the only victim to voluntarily come forward and at times was reluctant to fully cooperate with the investigation because of fear that she would be deported.
Dunn said there could be several other victims who are afraid to come forward because of their status as illegal aliens. At a press conference Wednesday, Dunn said police investigators would not turn any illegal aliens who came forward as victims over to immigration officials.
“It is very frustrating,” Dunn said. “There are possibly other victims who have been sexually assaulted and have been afraid to come forward. We want to investigate this to its fullest.
“We want to make clear that this investigation is being conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department and we are not concerned with a victim’s resident status.”
Times staff writer Patricia Klein Lerner also contributed to this story.