Tyler Kost (Source: Pinal County Sheriff's Office)
Tyler Kost (Source: Facebook)
SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ (CBS5) -
An Arizona teen accused of multiple sex crimes against underage girls in the San Tan Valley area has been arraigned on a third indictment filed by the Pinal County Attorney's Office.
Tyler Kost, 18, of San Tan Valley, was in Pinal County court on Wednesday when the court denied a motion filed by the defense to change the venue.
Pinal County Attorney's Office spokesman Jim Knupp said there are 13 victims and Kost faces 30 charges from the three indictments.
Nearly all of the victims are high school students, according to PCSO spokesman Sgt. Pat Ramirez. Sheriff's investigators said they discovered one girl was 13 years old. The oldest girl is 17. Each encounter happened within a three-year period.
Kost was a student at Poston Butte High School. After he was apprehended the first time, he was booked into the Pinal County Jail on two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor related to one of the cases. A spokesman with the Florence Unified School District said Kost was suspended from school.
In one case, Kost threatened, harassed and told one of the victims to kill herself, deputies said. The girl followed through and attempted suicide and was hospitalized, Ramirez said.
While in the hospital, she allegedly got a message from Kost, threatening that if she returned to school he would "make her life a living hell," Ramirez said. Fearful of returning, she packed up and moved out of state, Babeu said.
In another case, a victim became pregnant after she was allegedly raped, PCSO said.
"One of the victims actually became pregnant because of the sexual assault, and she subsequently had an abortion," Babeu said. "These are horrible crimes that cannot be tolerated in our community."
The arrest came after a Pinal County sheriff's detective assigned to the Persons Crimes Bureau got a tip. Initially, the tipster told PCSO that there were five victims.
Around the same time, officials with the Florence Unified School District say Kost came into the office to report being bullied. At that time, he was not aware there was a simultaneous investigation of the sex assaults with Kost as a suspect, as well as the bully allegations.
School officials said the thinking was that Kost was being bullied in relation to rumors among students that he was involved in the alleged assaults.
Detectives opened an investigation and identified eight other girls who claimed they had been sexually assaulted, sexually abused and molested by Kost, Ramirez said.
The alleged attacks happened at several places.
"He would assault these young female victims in their own bedrooms, in his bedroom, in the desert, at a community pool, at community parks," Babeu said.
Detectives said because he looked young and innocent, many people didn't perceive him as a threat.
Gentry Gillespie lives just two doors down from Kost. The father of four said he planned to have a talk with his kids as soon as they got home from school.
He also expressed words of encouragement for the victims.
"They're brave and if there are more of them out there then they need to come out, too, so this kid gets justice and maybe a little closure for them, too," he said.
Kost's pretrial conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 29.
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