Man gets 180 days for sexually assaulting 16-year-old on public bus

Authorities are asking for the public's help in identifying more potential victims of a Los Angeles transient who was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl on a public bus in Costa Mesa and has been linked to at least two other similar incidents.

Prosecutors said that police in Long Beach and Los Angeles also have open cases against Herath Permarathne, 55, who on Monday pleaded guilty in Orange County to misdemeanor child annoyance and will have to register as a sex offender.

Permarathne harassed a 16-year-old in October after they boarded a public bus in Costa Mesa together. He tried asking the girl questions but she didn't answer, and then he followed her onto the bus and sat next to her. During the ride, Permarathne grabbed her leg and squeezed her thigh while the girl cried and turned away, prosecutors said.

Permarathne eventually tried to unzip the girl's jeans when she answered a cell phone call and got off the bus. Her boyfriend and father picked her up and called police.

Permarathne was eventually identified as the suspect when police released surveillance images from the bus.

He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years probation. He has been in custody since his arrest in October, and has about a month left to serve, authorities said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed a hold on him so he will have to be processed by immigration before he is released from custody.

People who believe they may have been a victim of Permarathne are asked to call supervising Dist. Atty. Investigator Randy Litwin at (714) 347-8794.

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