Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
Transient convicted of sexually assaulting FEMALE minor while riding the bus
*The Orange County District Attorney is seeking the public’s help in identifying potential additional victims of the defendant
NEWPORT BEACH – The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) seeks the public’s help in identifying potential additional victims of a transient who was convicted yesterday of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl while riding a bus. Herath Premarathnea, 55, a transient known to frequent cities in Los Angeles and Orange County, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of child annoyance. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, three years probation, and mandatory sex offender registration.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2010, Premarathnea approached and started talking to 16-year-old Jane Doe, who was waiting at a bus stop in Costa Mesa to go home after school. He asked the victim where she lived and questions about her school but the victim did not answer. Approximately ten minutes later the bus arrived and the defendant boarded the bus, followed the victim, and sat down right next to her, despite several other vacant seats on the bus.
During the bus ride, Premarathnea squeezed Jane Doe’s thigh by sliding his hand underneath the victim’s book bag that was on her lap. He continued squeezing the victim’s thigh despite her telling him to stop. The defendant then moved his hand towards her groin and rubbed her vagina over her jeans. Jane Doe began crying and tried turning away from Premarathnea. He tried to unzip Jane Doe’s jeans, but the victim’s cell phone rang, and she was able get off at her bus stop. The defendant also exited the bus. Jane Doe’s boyfriend’s father picked up the victim and reported the incident to police.
Premarathnea purchased a bus pass that day and Orange County Transportation Authority records indicate the defendant rode the bus ten times that day. A witness also told police that Premarathnea was a Los Angeles transient who had recently come to Orange County looking for work and frequently used public bus transportation. Upon further investigation by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Premarathnea was arrested after being identified by bus surveillance tapes.
Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Lou Gutierrez at (714) 347-8794.
Deputy District Attorney Caroline Smith prosecuted this case.