Friday, June 11, 2010

Orange County Transit Bus Surveillance System Identifies Sex Offender

A man suspected of molesting a teenage girl aboard a bus has been identified by authorities and is currently behind bars in state prison, officials said.

Authorities Thursday identified the man captured on a bus surveillance camera as 48-year-old James Norkin, who authorities said has been convicted of sex crimes and was required to register as a sex offender.

Seeking the public's help to identify the man, sheriff officials on Wednesday released video surveillance of the man, who officials said began touching an underage girl sexually as the two rode a bus from Laguna Beach toward Laguna Hills Sunday afternoon.

Officials said the man boarded the bus, sat in the back seat, and began touching the girl, who was already sitting there.

One of the girl's friends noticed what the man was doing and told him to stop, but he continued until he exited the bus at the Laguna Hills mall, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The victim didn't say anything because she became frightened at what was happening, he said.

Sheriff officials received several tips from the public after releasing the video, Amormino said, but the break came when a parole officer identified Norkin from the video.

"This is a perfect example of teamwork," Amormino said. "The parole department worked very close with us."

Norkin was taken into custody Wednesday on suspicion of violating parole by not registering his residence as required, Amormino said.

He was sent to state prison in Chino, and was then identified by the parole officer, who saw the video on television, Amormino said.

"He's behind bars, where all sexual predators belong," Amormino said.

According to court records, Norkin has an extensive rap sheet that includes convictions for indecent exposure and failure to register as a sex offender.

In 1998, Norkin pleaded guilty to a single charge of indecent exposure. In 2006 and 2008, he also pleaded guilty to failure to register as a sex offender. He faced a similar charge in 2009, but the case was dismissed.

"While it is an unfortunate inevitability in a county of 3 million people that crime may occur on a bus, we hope this sends a clear message that it will not be tolerated and suspects will be caught," said Will Kempton, chief executive of the Orange County Transportation Authority, in a written statement that praised the quick work by the sheriff's department.

Sheriff officials plan to seek new charges of child molestation against Norkin, Amormino said.