Citing new evidence, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office reversed course today and filed a felony assault charge against a man accused of attacking a woman from behind and lifting her dress on a Long Beach sidewalk.
County prosecutors initially declined to file a felony case against Miguel Angel Avila Figueroa, 30, stemming from the attack that occurred about 2 p.m. Oct. 20 near Linden Avenue and East Broadway — an encounter that was caught on surveillance video. The District Attorney’s Office initially said the evidence gathered by police did not rise to the level of a felony.
The case was then referred to the Long Beach City Prosecutor, which filed misdemeanor counts of sexual battery and vandalism against him.
Earlier this week, the Long Beach prosecutor asked the District Attorney’s Office to reconsider the case as a felony, and the D.A.’s office issued a statement saying it would do so, while also looking over new information provided by Long Beach officials.
On Friday, the District Attorney’s Office announced it had charged Figueroa with felony assault with the intent to commit a forcible sex crime, as well as misdemeanor sexual battery.
“The pursuit of justice requires careful scrutiny and a commitment to upholding the safety of our community,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement Friday. “In light of new evidence, we have taken decisive action to ensure that those who commit serious sex crimes are held accountable. I commend the victim for her bravery in coming forward. I want to emphasize that we will pursue this case with unwavering commitment. The accused will be held accountable for his actions.”
Security video that captured the attack showed the victim walking on a sidewalk in a dark dress, passing a man who is sitting on the sidewalk. After she passes by, the man stands up and begins following her, eventually grabbing and lifting her dress from behind before she falls to the ground. A witness nearby approached the man as he tried to leave, but the suspect ran away. He was gone before police arrived.
According to jail records, Figueroa remains jailed in lieu of $275,000 bail, and he is tentatively set to appear in court Monday.
Source: NBC Los Angeles