A 45-year-old with an intellectual disability was charged Friday with felony assault with intent to commit rape in the Encino attack on a real estate agent that was recorded by a home security camera.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s five count complaint against Alen Karaboghosian also alleges he sexually battered four other women in separate incidents dating to February. Those were charged as misdemeanors.
Brought to court in Van Nuys Friday afternoon, he pleaded not guilty.
During the brief arraignment, Public Defender Meredith Schensol made no mention of his receiving services from a regional center for developmental disabilities, but said afterward it could be addressed before or at his next scheduled court appearance Oct. 16.
Members of his family have told NBC4 his intellectual disability at times affects his social interactions, and insisted that he did not intend to harm the woman they acknowledged he pushed to the ground last Sunday.
Karaboghosian lives with his parents and was riding with them in a family car when it was pulled over and he was arrested Tuesday night, a day after the video was released. Police said they were led to Karaboghosian by tips from people who recognized him in the video.
The incident sent shock waves through the local real estate community, and one brokerage quickly arranged self-defense guidance for its agents.
The victim in the Sunday incident, who asks not to be identified, told NBC4 she believes that after he arrived at the open house, he tried to get her to go into a backroom. Leery, she went outside in view of the security camera, pointed it out to him, and told him to leave.
He can be seen shaking her hand, then stepping forward and extending both his arms to push the much smaller woman backward. As she fell, screaming, he ran around, leaned over her, and briefly put his hands on her upper body. With her continuing to yell, he ran off.
After the video was broadcast, other women came forward, alleging they recognized Karaboghosian as the man who had groped them.
The district attorney’s office said the four other incidents date back to February, when another real estate agent alleges she was groped during an open house. The alleged unwelcome touching of three other women occurred on public streets.
If convicted on all counts, Karaboghosian could face a maximum sentence of eight years, or he could be committed to a facility for treatment.
The judge denied a defense request for Karaboghosian’s release, and set bail level at $180,000. His family says they have secured the bail, and expect to bring him home Saturday.
“We are not condoning or denying him having pushed the Realtor, but the rest of the allegations being made against him are irrational and exaggerated,” reads a statement read Thursday to NBCLA by a family member. “He did not do so with an intent to harm.”
However, two of his accusers said the way Karaboghosian ran off after groping indicates to them he understands right from wrong.
Karaboghosian’s arraignment was originally listed as scheduled for a downtown courthouse, where his brother and other family members gathered Friday morning to wait, along with his case worker from the North Los Angeles County Regional Center.
Not informed of the new location until after the noon hour, they were exasperated to arrive in Van Nuys after the arraignment’s conclusion. They said they had wanted to be in the courtroom to support him.
Karaboghosian spends time in his brother’s cabinet making shop, and likes to visit open houses, a family member said. He does not drive, but walks or rides a bike. All of the alleged counts occurred within a few blocks of the family home.
Intellectual disability can, but does not necessarily, render a criminal defendant not competent to stand trial, and can also become the basis for a defense of diminished capacity, also called diminished actuality. In some cases, a convict with an intellectual disability may be remanded to a conventional prison. If determined to pose a danger to self or others, there can also be placement for treatment in the secure portion of California’s Porterville Developmental Center.
The following is a complete statement released Thursday by the Karaboghosian family:
“I am speaking on behalf of Alen’s family. Alen’s mind does not function at the level of an adult’s, and it is important to understand the symptoms and implications of mental health before being so quick as to judging a man’s character and intentions. We are not condoning or denying him having pushed the Realtor, but the rest of the allegations being made against him are irrational and exaggerated. Even if he touched one’s shoulder or grabbed an arm or even hugged, he did not do so with an intent to harm and certainly did not sexually assault. We are aware of the fine line between socializing, being friendly, and harassing, however Alen has a mental disability, which hinders his judgment. He lacks the mental capacity to differentiate right from wrong and cannot communicate his wants and needs appropriately. Alen is unaware of how to appropriately act in a given social situation, at times being overly friendly and lacking the ability to distinguish between friend and stranger. As previously mentioned, Alen has the kindest heart and will jump at any occasion to help someone in need. Unfortunately, his mental disability has impaired his ability to stay calm in an emergency, causing him to become confused and not know how to act appropriately.”