Five men charged with OC Crackdown on teen prostitution

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Trigger Warning: The following story contains details pertaining to a sexual assault.

Five men caught in an Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force investigation are facing charges of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl they met online.

The task force started an investigation in September after the teen met the men through Sugardaddymeet.com, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Mitchell Biela, 32, of Long Beach, is accused of being the first to meet the victim, and helping her meet with and engage in sex acts with four other defendants in the investigation, according to Kimberly Edds, a public information officer with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Biela, who was arrested Sept. 2, was being held on $70,000 bail. He is charged with single felony counts each of human trafficking of a minor, pimping a minor for prostitution and pandering a minor.

Biela pleaded not guilty Sept. 18 and was next due in court Feb. 24 for a preliminary hearing in the Central Justice Centre in Santa Ana.

Michael Araujo, 48, of Anaheim, is charged with six counts of lewd acts on a child 14 or 15 years old, six counts of oral sex with a minor, and a count of sodomy of a minor, all felonies and 18 misdemeanor counts of soliciting, engaging or agreeing to engage in prostitution with a minor.

Araujo pleaded not guilty Dec. 3 and was next due in court Thursday for a pretrial hearing in the West Justice Center in Westminster.

Nick Rexford Walpert, 60, of San Diego, is charged with single counts each of meeting a minor to commit lewd conduct, attempted sodomy of a minor, attempted statutory rape and attempted oral copulation of a minor, all felonies.

Walpert pleaded not guilty Nov. 23 and was next due in court Feb. 8 for a pretrial hearing in the West Justice Center in Westminster.

Michael Leija, 40, of Norwalk, is charged with 10 felony counts of lewd acts on a child 14 or 15, and a misdemeanor count of solicitation, engaging or agreeing to engage in prostitution with a minor.

Leija pleaded not guilty Jan. 28 and was next due in court for a pretrial hearing April 1 in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Juan Catalan, 42, of Gardena, is charged with single felony counts each of lewd act on a child 14 or 15, luring a child with criminal intent, meeting a minor to commit lewd conduct and two misdemeanor counts of soliciting, engaging or agreeing to engage in prostitution with a minor and a misdemeanor count of arranging to meet a minor for lewd conduct.

Catalan pleaded not guilty Jan. 19 and was next due in court for a pretrial hearing March 25 in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

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