VAN NUYS (CNS) - An Encino man was charged today with assaulting or groping five women in the San Fernando Valley this year, including two real estate agents during open houses.
Alen Karaboghosian, 45, pleaded not guilty to one felony count of assault with intent to commit rape and four misdemeanor counts of sexual battery.
Karaboghosian allegedly attacked a real estate agent in Encino last Sunday after she showed him a home that was listed for sale, according to Deputy District Attorney Brendan Sullivan. The defendant allegedly pushed the woman to the ground in an attempt to sexually assault her.
After security video of the attack was released, other women came forward to allege that they had also been groped or assaulted by Karaboghosian, who's also accused of groping a second real estate agent during an open house Feb. 16 and three other women on public streets on March 23, Aug. 26 and Sept. 14.
Plainclothes investigators from the LAPD's Gang and Narcotics Division participated in a surveillance operation that led to Karaboghosian's arrest at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.
In a statement obtained by NBCLA, the defendant's family said, ``Alen's mind does not function at the level of an adult's, and it is important to understand the symptoms and implications of mental health before being so quick as to judging a man's character and intentions.''
``We are not condoning or denying him having pushed the Realtor, but the rest of the allegations being made against him are irrational and exaggerated,'' the statement says. ``Even if he touched one's shoulder or grabbed an arm or even hugged, he did not do so with an intent to harm and certainly did not sexually assault. We are aware of the fine line between socializing, being friendly and harassing. However, Alen has a mental disability which hinders his judgment. He lacks the mental capacity to differentiate right from wrong and cannot communicate his wants and needs appropriately.''
Karaboghosian was ordered to remain jailed in lieu of $180,000 bail while awaiting his next appearance in a Van Nuys courtroom Oct. 16, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to allow the case against him to proceed to trial.
He could face up to eight years in state prison if he is convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney's Office.