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Suspected serial rapist targeted 13 L.A. County victims on Instagram, authorities say

A silhouette of a woman wearing glasses and her hair up checking her phone.
A woman checks her phone in 2019. A Los Angeles man is accused of sexually assaulting 13 people he met on Instagram.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)
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A 21-year-old Los Angeles man is accused of sexually assaulting multiple victims he targeted on Instagram over a roughly two-year period, authorities announced Tuesday.

Michael Watson Jr., is accused of assaulting 13 females, including four minors. Investigators said DNA evidence linked him to sexual assaults in Los Angeles, East Los Angeles and Inglewood. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s help to locate any additional victims.

The first incident was reported in Walnut on Feb. 2, 2021, when Watson allegedly raped a woman he met on Instagram. The man also stole the cellphones of two women who were at the home before fleeing in a dark gray sedan, according to authorities.

“He said, ‘You’re not calling no one. You’re alone. You’re lost,’” the victim recalled from the witness stand Tuesday through a court-appointed Spanish interpreter.

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The suspect then contacted one of the women and allegedly threatened her. He also attempted to extort money from her, threatening to post nude images that were on her phone, and impersonated the woman on social media, according to authorities.

During their investigation, detectives connected the suspect to several other incidents that followed a similar pattern. All of the victims were messaged over social media, lured to various locations and then sexually assaulted, investigators said.

Watson was charged with 16 felony counts, including aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14; three counts of forcible rape; one count of assault with a deadly weapon; four counts of attempted extortion; and one count of grand theft auto, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Harvey Weinstein will not testify in his own defense at his Los Angeles rape trial, leaving his attorneys with just six witnesses to call. The case could go to jurors by the end of the week.

Watson was arrested on Nov. 8 in the Antelope Valley and remains in custody on $1.7 million bail.

Investigators believe there may be additional victims. Anyone with information about the investigation is urged to contact the sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau at (877) 710-5273 or by email.


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