A man accused of raping a woman he met on social media last year is facing more than a dozen additional charges and authorities are describing him as a “serial rapist.”
Michael Watson Jr., 21, of Los Angeles, was arrested on Nov. 8 in the Antelope Valley.
Watson became the subject of the investigation after a report of a forcible rape that happened on Feb. 2, 2021 in Walnut. Two women told authorities that they met Watson on Instagram and invited him to their home. Once there, he raped one of them and then stole their cell phones, authorities said.
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, he continued to contact one of the victims via social media, sending her threatening messages, impersonating her online and extorting her for money by threatening to post nude photos that were on her phone.
Detectives began investigating and with the use of DNA evidence were able to link the suspect in the Walnut rape to similar incidents across the Los Angeles area. The crimes shared a similar methodology, authorities say, with the suspect initiating contact on Instagram and then luring his victims to different locations to sexually assault them.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detectives worked alongside detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department and Inglewood Police Department to identify twelve separate incidents that happened over a two-year period.
Thirteen female victims were identified, including four who were minors.
In September, the case was presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office which led to 16 felony counts being filed and a warrant for Watson’s arrest.
Watson was taken into custody and arraigned at the Compton Courthouse. He was charged with three counts of forcible rape, one count of sexual assault of a child under 14, one count of assault with a deadly weapon, four counts of attempted extortion and one count of grand theft.
He remains in custody with bail set at $1.79 million. He is due back in court on Jan. 12, 2023.
Based on the nature of the crimes, detectives believe there may be additional unidentified victims. Anyone with information about the case or any additional victims is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273.