A Torrance man has been convicted of sexually assaulting a 2-year-old girl who was taken from a Gardena car wash in April 2015. The incident made news worldwide.
Jurors deliberated about an hour before finding Michael David Ikeler, 38, guilty of one count of lewd act upon a child and two counts of sexual penetration of a child 10 or younger, according to Deputy District Attorney Allyson Ostrowski.
The jury Friday also found true an allegation that the lewd act was committed during the course of a kidnapping.
The girl — who had been with her mother at a car wash at 14929 Western Ave. — was taken from the business April 2, 2015.
More than 50 volunteers, explorers and residents took part in a search for the girl, who was found about 2 1/2 hours later in an empty parking lot near 8022 Atlantic Ave. in Cudahy, authorities said.
Gardena police said they received a tip that led them to Ikeler, who was arrested a week later.
Gardena police Lt. Steve Prendergast said soon after Ikeler’s arrest that DNA linked Ikeler to the crime, and that two witnesses placed him at the crime scene. He also owned a white Nissan Altima with tinted windows matching one that was seen near the car wash, the lieutenant said.
Ikeler testified in his own defense during the trial, telling jurors that he did not kidnap or sexually assault the girl and claiming that a drug dealer had borrowed his car, according to the Daily Breeze.
Ikeler — who has remained jailed since his arrest — is due back in a Torrance courtroom for sentencing March 1. He is facing a 55-year-to-life prison term, according to the prosecutor.
— City News Service