The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has reversed course and opted to file felony charges against a man suspected of sexually assaulting a woman on a Long Beach sidewalk last month.
Miguel Avila, 30, was initially charged with a misdemeanor for his alleged assault of a woman who was walking on the 140 block of Linden Avenue on Oct. 20.
Video of the attack showed the victim walking down the street when the suspect, later identified as Avila, gets up from the sidewalk, begins following the woman and grabs her from behind, exposing himself as she falls to the ground.
A good Samaritan then intervenes and scares the attacker off. Avila was eventually arrested not far from the scene of the attack.
The misdemeanor filing drew outrage from members of the public, as well as the victim herself, who said she was angered by the charges and said she didn’t want to live her life in fear.
On Friday, the DA’s Office announced that an “experienced prosecutor” in its Sex Crimes Division decided to file a felony charge after “meticulously” reviewing new evidence.
Avila, who authorities say is homeless, now faces felony charges for assault with the intent to commit a forcible sex crime as well as sexual battery.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said the Long Beach Police Department submitted the case for consideration, but said evidence that was submitted did not “substantiate a felony filing.”
After news broke of the misdemeanor charges being filed, a prosecutor for the City of Long Beach apparently reached out to the DA’s Office with new evidence.
“The pursuit of justice requires careful scrutiny and a commitment to upholding the safety of our community. In light of new evidence, we have taken decisive action to ensure that those who commit serious sex crimes are held accountable,” Gascón said in a news release.
He continued by thanking the victim for coming forward to share her story and promised that her attacker would be held accountable.
According to jail records, Avila was booked into the the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Chinatown Friday and is due in court on Monday.
He had previously pleaded not guilty and was being held on $75,000 bail. The DA’s Office said new bail will be requested to be set at $150,000.