A judge today issued a warrant for the arrest of a witness who failed to appear for the trial of an Orange County man accused of using MySpace.com and other Internet sites to arrange meetings with young girls whom he photographed nude, resulting in at least one alleged rape.
Joshua David Threlkeld, 34, could face multiple life sentences if convicted of 103 felony and misdemeanor charges, including kidnapping to commit rape, aggravated sexual assault, lewd acts on a child, indecent exposure and possession of child pornography.
The complaint names 50 alleged victims, though prosecutors believe the actual number is in excess of 100.
The father of one alleged victim failed to respond to a subpoena to testify for the prosecution, prompting Riverside County Superior Court Judge Edward Webster to issue a bench warrant for the witness's arrest.
Webster ordered bail for Ramon Salvador Ortiz set at $5,000 until he appears in court to explain himself.
The judge also sent jurors home early, without hearing any testimony, after defense attorney John Feiner contacted the court by phone, saying he was too ill to make it in today.
Testimony is slated to resume at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
Threlkeld is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
Court documents allege the defendant targeted girls between 11 and 17 years old, contacting most of them between August 2007 and the winter of 2009.
Threlkeld is accused of posing as a 13-year-old girl, "Sara Miller,'' to initiate communication with the girls, most of whom he met via MySpace and Facebook, some from as far away as London, England. He allegedly would purport that "Sara'' was sometimes paid to pose nude for a photographer named "Josh" at "Model 508 Studios.''
After establishing a rapport with the girls, Threlkeld would allegedly attempt to talk them into modeling nude for him or sending him nude photographs of themselves, according to a trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Melissa Moore.
The prosecutor alleged that some girls turned him down flat, while others expressed an interest, leading to face-to-face encounters between the defendant and his alleged victims. Most of the girls who met the defendant were from Corona, Hemet, Moreno Valley, Palm Springs, Romoland and Winchester, according to the prosecution.
Threlkeld allegedly set up photography sessions at his Orange home, in San Jacinto and in Palm Springs. On some occasions, the defendant would allegedly arrange for two girls to meet him, according to the brief.
The defendant would allegedly have the victims disrobe and then interact with one another in sexually suggestive ways while he took photos.
A 13-year-old girl identified in court documents as Vanessa met with Threlkeld in the summer of 2008 for a photo shoot at a Palm Springs hotel, prosecutors allege.
According to the D.A.'s office, during the meeting, the defendant claimed his camera was broke and allegedly sexually assaulted Vanessa, giving her $120 afterward.