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More victims come forward in sexual assault case

A 55-year-old man was arrested and charged with assaulting girls on public buses.

November 02, 2010|Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

Two more women have come forward as possible victims of a man accused of sexually assaulting girls on public buses in Costa Mesa and Los Angeles County.

A 19-year-old woman from Los Angeles and a teenage girl from Long Beach contacted the Orange County Sheriff's Department after hearing about Herath Premarathnea, 55, who's charged with misdemeanor touching of another person's intimate parts and annoying or molesting a minor.

The alleged victims recognized Premarathnea from media accounts of his arrest. On Oct. 25, a 16-year-old girl told authorities that, as she was riding on a public bus in Costa Mesa, Premarathnea sat next to her and began rubbing her leg, then unzipped her pants.

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Police put out a photo from the camera and a description of the suspect. He was spotted three days later and was arrested as he got off the bus at Harbor Boulevard and Wilson Street. Police said on Oct. 25 he had been on at least 10 buses.

The alleged 19-year-old victim said she was touched by Premarathnea in late June. The teenager said she encountered him in Long Beach on Oct. 1. Police have identified a fourth alleged victim through security cameras, but haven't identified her and she hasn't come forward.

Premarathnea hasn't been charged for the pair of new reports yet. He pleaded not guilty to the Oct. 25 case and is scheduled to be back in court next week for a pre-trial hearing. He faces a year in jail if convicted.

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