2 Accused of Molesting ‘Several’ Children in Santa Clarita Area; Authorities Ask for Help in ID’ing Possible Additional Victims

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Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detectives on Wednesday asked for the public’s help in identifying additional possible victims of a man and woman accused of sexually assaulting children in the Santa Clarita Valley area.

Jacqueline Wadsworth, 32, and Francisco Avendano, 42, are seen in booking photos. (Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

Jacqueline Wadsworth, 32, and Francisco Avendano, 42, are seen in booking photos. (Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

Jacqueline Wadsworth, 32, and Francisco Avendano, 42, were arrested at their Santa Clarita home when investigators served a search warrant there on March 31, the agency said in a statement.

The arrests were part of an investigation launched by the Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau in early 2016, following allegations that Wadsworth and Avendano molested “several children at several locations” in the area, the news release said.

On April 4, the county District Attorney’s Office charged each suspect with multiple counts of lewd acts against a child, a felony, according to sheriff’s officials. Wadsworth on Wednesday was being held on $220,000 bail, while Avendano was in custody in lieu of $2,020,000 bail, the statement said.

The couple lived in several areas of the Santa Clarita Valley, where Avendano befriended neighborhood children and friends of family members before sexually assaulting them, sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Hudson told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.

Detectives believe that other children may have been sexually assaulted by the two suspects during the past ten years.

Anyone with information about the case was asked to call the sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273. Tipsters who wish to remain anonymous may call 800-222-8477, or text the letters TIPLA plus the tip to 274637, or go to lacrimestoppers.org.

KTLA’s Anthony Kurzweil contributed to this report.