A Torrance man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 2-year-old girl who was taken from her mother at a Gardena car wash entered a not guilty plea Wednesday.
Michael David Ikeler, 36, appeared in court in Torrance to answer to one count of lewd act upon a child under the age of 14 with a special allegation that the crime was committed during the course of a kidnapping, and two counts of sexual penetration of a child under age 10.
A preliminary hearing was held for Ikeler Sept. 9, when he was ordered to stand trial.
Ikeler was arrested a week after the April 2 kidnapping of a toddler who was dropped off in an alley hours after she disappeared.
Her mother called 911 after the little girl disappeared at a self-serve carwash at 14929 Western Ave. Court testimony indicated that the woman’s older daughter told her mother that the toddler had vanished, a news release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office stated Wednesday.
After a massive search, the girl was found about 2 1/2 hours later some 8 miles away, in a parking lot in Cudahy. She was sitting on the ground by herself, next to a dumpster, the DA’s office said. She was hospitalized with unspecified injuries.
A neighbor who saw Ikeler altering his car — which matched the description of that sought by police — contacted investigators three days later. DNA evidence linked him to the crime, as did witnesses and his vehicle, police said after his arrest.
Ikeler remains in custody on $1 million bail. He faced up to 40 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged.
A neighbor told KTLA in April that Ikeler lived with his 18-year-old daughter.