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Alleged abuse lasted years



Five local girls suffered horrific, years-long sexual abuse that came to light after one grew so afraid she threatened to commit suicide, according to court records and Bakersfield police.

Justin Erbacher, 22, is accused of molesting five girls, all under the age of 14, over nearly five years, the officials and records say.

At least one girl, now 13, was abused over that entire span, according to court records. The other alleged victims were 11, 10 , 9 and 5 years old.

The Californian does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

At least one of the victims lived in a foster home. One of her foster parents said all her children have been taken away from her because of the charges against Erbacher.

That parent has not been charged with a crime.

Barbara Zimmermann, spokeswoman for the county Department of Human Services, said there is a "very serious investigation" under way in the case.

It was unclear from court records whether the other victims were in foster care or lived with their custodial parents.

Erbacher is charged with 23 various counts of sexual abuse, including continuous sexual abuse of a child, sodomy, oral copulation and lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 years old.

Erbacher didn't respond to a request for an interview.

The BPD learned of the allegations when it was called to a home for a suicidal person earlier this month, police reports filed in Kern County Superior Court say.

One of Erbacher's alleged victims had revealed the abuse to an older family member, then threatened to kill herself because she was afraid she'd be in trouble, police said in the documents.

Erbacher threatened to kill at least one of the girls if she revealed the abuse, police allege in reports.

Erbacher's bail, originally set at $150,000, was raised to $400,000 Wednesday. Erbacher's next court date is scheduled for Wednesday.

The police are still investigating the case, Detective Ryan Paslay said.

2006 Apr 13