LOS ANGELES – Graphic video footage obtained by the sheriff's department shows several men sexually assaulting at least 10 profoundly disabled women, some of them in diapers, officials said Thursday.
The assaults came to light when an unknown man dumped a bundle of 11 DVDs at the Los Angeles County sheriff's station in March. Attached to the videos was a note saying he had pulled them from a computer hard drive that another man had asked him to clean.
Some of the assaults were carried out in what appeared to be a residential care facility and one of the suspects seemed himself to be disabled.
Detectives have spent the last several months trying to pull clues from the grainy videos. After the footage was enhanced, they were able to capture the images of four men who carried out assaults, though there could be as many as 10 suspects total.
"It shocked the conscience," said Detective Ron Anderson of the special victims unit, which reviewed the DVDs. "These people are truly defenseless."
The footage was not released to the public but authorities described what they had seen. In one video, an obese man in a wheelchair is seen pushing himself into a small bedroom while wearing a diaper. His back is covered in scars and he appears to be a paraplegic resident of a care facility.
The man pulls himself onto a woman's bed, removes both his own and her diaper, then assaults her, authorities said.
"He then hoisted himself onto the floor, scooted across the floor, out of the doorway and disappeared from the camera's view," Anderson said.
In another video, a man leads another suspect into a room then leaves him alone to assault a woman. The victims appear to be both mentally and physically disabled and none gives any sort of consent. Some of the assaults occur on beds and one takes place on a collection of bean bags on the floor.
"After one horrendous assault, one of the victims was picked up and thrown back into a wheelchair," Sgt. Dan Scott said.
Detectives hope that by going public with the case, someone will recognize a suspect or a location where an assault took place. They also want to speak to the man who gave them the videos and stressed that he could remain anonymous.
"He is not in any trouble, we are just seeking more information from him," Scott said.
The videos were mainly captured by security cameras in the victims' room, though some recordings are from hand held cameras.
One suspect was wearing a baseball cap with "LA" on it and another has an orange T-shirt that is printed with the year 2008. Authorities think the videos were made locally in the last three years but could have come from anywhere in the country.
Detectives are working with TV show "America's Most Wanted," which is planning a segment on the case, Anderson said.