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UPDATE: Valencia sex offender sentenced to 15 years in prison

Michael Downs had been charged with 34 counts involving 17 victims

Posted: January 10, 2013 10:08 p.m.
Updated: January 10, 2013 10:08 p.m.

Michael Downs pleaded guilty today to 15 sex-related counts involving Santa Clarita Valley girls. By entering the plea, he avoids the possibility of a life sentence.

 

ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT

A 20-year-old Valencia man who trolled for teen girls on the Internet and hung out with younger boys so he could meet younger girls was sentenced to 15 years and four months in state prison Thursday.

Michael Downs, who had faced 34 charges of sex crimes involving 17 victims, pleaded no contest on Thursday to molesting 15 girls in 2010 and 2011, said a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Downs was sentenced by San Fernando Superior Court Judge Hayden Zacky after he entered his plea of no contest to 14 felony counts and one misdemeanor charge involving the victims, between the ages of 16 and 12 when the crimes occurred, said spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.

Felony charges against Downs, she said, included eight counts of lewd conduct with a child, five counts of unlawful sex with a minor and one count of sexual penetration by a foreign object of a minor. The misdemeanor count was sexual battery.

Downs must register for life as a sex offender as part of his sentence.

He was arrested in mid-December 2011 after some Santa Clarita Valley girls came forward and said he had performed sexual acts with them, investigators said at the time.

In February, he entered a plea of not guilty on charges of sex-related crimes involving minors, including statutory rape and lewd acts with a minor under age 14.

All the victims are Santa Clarita Valley residents, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said shortly after his arrest.

Six months after his not-guilty plea, Downs was ordered to stand trial on 34 charges.

By entering a no-contest plea to 14 criminal counts Thursday, Downs avoids a possible sentence of life in prison. That would be the maximum sentence he could face had he been convicted by a jury on all counts, according to prosecutors previously interviewed.

According to Gibbons, Deputy District Attorney Julie Kramer met with each of the victims and informed them of the sentencing arrangements made as part of the plea agreement.

One of the victims was represented by a family member in court Thursday but that person did not testify, Gibbons said.

Authorities said Downs was between the ages of 18 and 19 when the crimes occurred.

They said he lied about his age, pretending to be 15 or 16, which would make him a minor. He would meet the victims through social media, at malls and house parties. He also befriended younger teen boys to meet girls in their age group.
The case was investigated by the Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau.

Downs has remained in custody for more than a year with bail set at $1.8 million.

A restitution hearing will be scheduled by Judge Zacky on Feb. 27.

jholt@signalscv.com

661-287-5527

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@jamesarthurholt

 



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