Pro skater, manager accused of sexually exploiting girl, 12
LOS ANGELES – A teen YouTube star’s promise to introduce a 12-year-old girl to celebrities in exchange for sex acts with him, his manager and another professional skater lead to the arrests and a search for more possible victims, police said Thursday.
Steven Fernandez, 15, of Compton, was the “prime mover” in a scheme to lure the young girl off city streets with his own fame, a promise of meeting A-list celebrities and an appearance in the teen’s “nonexistent MTV special,” according to Los Angeles Police Department.
Fernandez, who has dozens of videos on YouTube and more than a million followers on Instagram, tweeted Wednesday, “I feel like I’m letting so many down” and “Please don’t ever give up on me.” His nickname is “Baby Scumbag.”
The teen’s name was released by police despite his age because he allegedly sexually targeted another minor.
The investigation began Nov. 13, when the 12-year-old victim spoke to police.
The girl said Fernandez had called her over to a car on Ventura Boulevard, making promises to her and telling her to get in. The car was driven by Fernandez’s manager, Jose Barajas, police said. The teen asked the girl to engage in sex acts with himself, Barajas, and 27-year-old fellow professional skater Keelan Lamar Dadd, according to LAPD.
“Fernandez and his buddies used his fame and brand to sexually exploit the very girls who made the men rich and famous,” Ninette Toosbuy of the West Valley Detective Division said in LAPD’s news release. “We’re taking exceptional measures to find additional victims because the fate of some young lives may be at stake.”
Fernandez and 23-year-old Barajas were arrested Nov. 17 after detectives sent a text pretending to be the victim and seeking to meet at an abandoned home for sex. Dadd turned himself in on Dec. 3, police said.
The trio were booked on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14. The adults were charged with multiple felonies, according to a criminal complaint that states the crimes occurred Nov. 4, Nov. 13 and Nov. 14.
Barajas’ bail was set at $475,000 and Dadd’s at $200,000. Both men bailed out, while Fernandez was released to his mother and ordered to wear an ankle tracker.
On Dec. 10, Barrajas pleaded not guilty, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said. Dadd was due for arraignment in Van Nuys court on Dec. 23, she said.
The DA’s office could not comment on Fernandez because of his age, the spokeswoman said.
Police asked parents to look at the three pictures and names of the accused and ask their daughters if they have had contact with them.
“The suspects tended to cruise the West San Fernando Valley, Hollywood and Compton, looking for young girls to solicit,” Toosbuy said.
Fernandez, whose YouTube channel has more than 703,000 subscribers, in March posted a video titled “Steven Fernandez Picking Up Girls.” It shows him catcalling and approaching women from a car, much as described by police.
Anyone with information was asked to call Toosbuy at 818-374-7718. Anonymous tips may be made at 800-222-8477, or by texting 274637 and beginning the message with “LAPD.” Online tips can be made at LAPDOnline.org.