Serial Molester Alleged in Thousands of Crimes

Police in San Jose, Calif., hold a convicted child molester who they say may have committed sex crimes against 36,000 victims in five states and three countries. The accused, 63-year-old Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller, is in jail without bail.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

In San Jose, California, police made a stunning announcement today. They're holding a man who they say may have molested thousands of children in five states, as well as in Brazil and Mexico. The man suspected of these crimes is 63-year-old Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller, who has been convicted of earlier child molestations. NPR's Richard Gonzales has been following the story from San Francisco and joins us now.

Richard, how did San Jose police get involved with this man, and why do they believe that he can be linked to so many crimes?

RICHARD GONZALES reporting:

Well, Schwartzmiller was arrested in Washington state late last month and he was extradited to San Jose, California, about nine days ago. He's being held without bail on one count of aggravated sexual assault on a child under the age of 14 and six other counts of lewd and lascivious conduct, again on a child under 14, with each count alleging multiple victims.

Now police say that during their search of his bedroom in San Jose, they discovered at least seven multicolored binders full of child pornography, as well as numerous logs with detailed records listing more than 36,000 names, mostly boys' names.

SIEGEL: Thirty-six thousand different names of different minors?

GONZALES: Well, let's be clear here. The police say the logs contain repeat entries, so they are hesitant to estimate how many children he may have actually abused.

SIEGEL: Now San Jose police made all this public at a news conference today, but they said that there's more work to do in the investigation. I want us to hear a little bit of what San Jose police Lieutenant Scott Cornfield, who oversees the sexual assault unit, said.

Lieutenant SCOTT CORNFIELD (San Jose Police Department): In most cases, we don't have last names on these children. We don't know where they live. They're from different states, according to the records here. They also list codes that we have yet to completely identify, but we believe those codes indicate certain sex acts that the suspect engaged in.

SIEGEL: And, Richard, what more did they say about this?

GONZALES: Well, the police also say they seized several computers and a server, and they hope to determine whether Schwartzmiller was operating a Web site and/or using the Internet to lure his victims.

SIEGEL: Now as I mentioned, Schwartzmiller is a convicted child molester from the past. What else do we know about him?

GONZALES: Police are saying that he is one of the most active child molesters they've even seen, and they're making the case public because they're hoping to get help from the public to identify more of his victims. He's known to have used the aliases of Dean Harmon and Dean Miller. And he's appeared to have spent much of the past 30 years in California, but he's also been arrested on child molestation charges in New York, Arkansas, Washington, Idaho and Oregon. In Oregon, he's wanted on felony sexual assault charges involving a minor, and in the late 1970s, he served prison time in Idaho for child molestation.

His apparent modus operandi was to gain the trust of his victims and their parents as he worked as a home renovation contractor. And amazingly, he never appeared in the Megan's Law databases in California or any other states because he never registered as a sex offender.

SIEGEL: And by his inaction, that kept him off the database?

GONZALES: That's correct. Now police say it's very frustrating, but that's how it worked.

SIEGEL: Now the police, I gather, also arrested Schwartzmiller's roommate. What do you know about that?

GONZALES: His name is Fred Everts. He was Schwartzmiller's roommate in San Jose. He's also wanted for violating parole in Oregon related to child molestation charges, and he was charged with child molestation in San Jose, including at least one count involving one of Schwartzmiller's two alleged victims.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Richard.

GONZALES: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Richard Gonzales, reporting from San Francisco.

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