Investigators in LA looking for Bakersfield sex suspect

Investigators in LA looking for Bakersfield sex suspect »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The search is on for a man suspected of luring women with promises of Hollywood jobs and then sexually assaulting the victims. Bakersfield police say 45-year-old Anthony Augustus Jefferson is wanted on charges including sexual battery, false impersonation, indecent exposure and theft.

"The Bakersfield Police Department is investigating similar incidents where the female victims answered job posting from the Internet," Det. Uriel Pacheco told Eyewitness News. The officer wouldn't say what Internet sites were used, but said the job postings targeted Los Angeles-area residents.

Eyewitness News has learned BPD investigators working on the case were in L.A. on Tuesday.

"They are following up on the case," Pacheco confirmed.

Police said Jefferson posted bogus ads for jobs like models and actresses.

"The victims reported that they were contacted by the suspect who identified himself as an employee, or talent scout, of a major television network," Pacheco said.

Investigators said Jefferson used what looked like legitimate trademarks and employee names of big TV networks.

He managed to convince the victims that there were film-related jobs coming up in the Bakersfield area, and set up interviews or auditions at restaurants or motels around the city.

"During their contact, the suspect obtained their personal identity information, convinced them to make purchases using their credit card with the promise of reimbursement, or convinced them to perform sexual acts under the false pretense of employment," Pacheco explained.

The officer would not say exactly where the encounters happened. Investigators are also not revealing how many victims have come forward.

"Specifically in two cases, the suspect asked the females to rent hotel rooms where auditions would be conducted," a police statement reads. "He persuaded these victims, through false pretense of financial gains, employment, and the promise of meeting renowned actors, to do various sexual acts with him as part of an audition for movie roles."

Officers say Jefferson also swindled some victims out of additional money for "expenses" like motel rooms.

Pacheco now confirms Jefferson is also considered the suspect in some cases reported in August.

"The victims made contact with the suspect, and during their contact he was able to obtain either their identifying information, or convince the victim to use her personal credit card," Pacheco said.

Bakersfield police had previously said in those incidents, two victims answered ads for positions as personal assistants. Officers reported the contacts happened at businesses on White Lane.

Detectives had also reported the suspect asked the victims to give him a massage, and that's when they called police.

Eyewitness News found an apartment on Oregon Street in east Bakersfield listed as an address for Anthony Jefferson at one point. No one at the apartment now knew him, or recognized his photo from a "wanted" flier. Several residents said police had already been there, asking about Jefferson.

A search of Kern County Court records shows several cases for an Anthony Augustus Jefferson. A 1996 case has a conviction on a charge of second-degree robbery, in 1994 there's a drug possession case, and there's a charge of writing bad checks in 1993.

While officers search for the suspect, they also have warnings and advice for job-seekers.

"Find out if it's a legitimate agency, first things first," Carina Ortiz said. She's a community relations specialist with the Bakersfield Police crime prevention unit. She suggests with job ads on the internet it's a good idea to "Google" around to check on the agency or company. Look for a corporate phone number, or check with the Better Business Bureau.

And she said something like meeting at a motel is a clear red flag.

"You always want to be leery where there's no public view available," Ortiz said. "A private motel room is definitely something you want to avoid."

Police said a warrant was issued Sept. 7 for Jefferson's arrest on charges of sexual battery by false pretense, false impersonation, indecent exposure and petty theft.

"We want the public to be aware of what's taking place over the internet," Pacheco said. "And we want them to be careful when using the internet when seeking employment."