Almost two years after pleading not guilty to multiple felony and misdemeanor counts, a 26-year-old man took a plea deal Wednesday on two felony counts for entering a Palm Springs Walmart bathroom stall occupied by a teenager and committing a sex act in front of the girl.
Tyler Ray Berthoud of Oak Hills in San Bernardino County pleaded guilty to attempting a lewd act with a child under 14 and burglary at the Palm Springs Walmart on Aug. 9. 2017, court records show.
He was arrested the same day at the store located at 5601 Ramon Road after several store patrons and employees restrained him as he left the restroom, Palm Springs Police Sgt. William Hutchinson said.
According to Hutchinson, the suspect stuck his head underneath the bottom of a stall in the women’s restroom while a 13-year-old girl was inside. Berthoud entered the stall and masturbated in front of her but did not physically harm or molest the girl, the sergeant said. Witnesses heard the girl screaming and Berthoud was apprehended by a group of people after he left the bathroom.
He was initially charged with felony counts of attempted lewd acts on a minor, burglary, false imprisonment, along with misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure and child annoyance. Court records do not confirm what Berthoud stole from Walmart, but did note that he “wilfully” entered the store with “intent to commit theft.”
Hutchinson called Berthoud a “brazen, dangerous individual” and “someone we don’t want in this community or any community for that matter.”
Court records show he previously stood trial in Indio on misdemeanor sexual battery and child annoyance charges in a case out of Wildomar in which he was accused of trying to pick up two teenage girls at a McDonald’s, then following a woman into her apartment complex and grabbing her buttocks.
A jury found him guilty on the child annoyance count, according to court records, and he additionally pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of sexual battery and being under the influence of controlled substances. For those offenses, Berthoud was sentenced to a one-year county jail term but had already accumulated enough credit for time served to secure his release the day before he was arrested by Palm Springs police.
He also had one prior spousal abuse conviction and one battery against a police officer conviction in the years leading up to the both of these sexual attacks on minors.
Berthoud, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta, will return to court May 8 for sentencing.