UPDATE: A North Hills woman accused of posing for child pornography suffered a seizure Monday, according to the Daily News. Federal officials are unsure when she will be able to enter a plea, the paper reported. Letha Mae Montemayor was hospitalized, according to a federal court document, the paper said.
A federal court appearance was delayed until Tuesday afternoon for a North Hills woman accused of posing in 11-year-old photos depicting child pornography.
Letha Mae Montemayor, 52, was arrested outside an apartment complex around 7:30 p.m. Thursday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agents and Los Angeles Police Department officers, ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said.
The arrest came less than 10 hours after federal authorities released photographs of an unidentified man and woman, known only as "Jane Doe" and "John Doe," being sought in connection with a child sexual exploitation case. Federal officials held a news conference Thursday asking for help identifying the suspects, who were believed to have taken the photos in the San Fernando Valley.
By 2 p.m., someone had called the ICE tip line, and more tips followed, leading authorities to Montemayor, officials said. She is charged in a federal criminal complaint with one count of production of child pornography and one count of conspiracy to produce child pornography, Kice said.
Montemayor was initially expected to face a federal judge for the first time Monday, but prosecutors said the appearance had been put off for 24 hours.
U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said the arrest of Montemayor "brings us one step closer to vindicating the victim and helping to regain some dignity for all victims of child exploitation crimes."
The charges involve a widely circulated series of child porn images believed to have been taken about 11 years ago in Encino and elsewhere in the region. The identity and whereabouts of the man involved in the case, believed to be between 40 and 50 years of age, had yet to be determined.
Officials said tips from the public have come in regarding the male suspect, whose face had been purposely obscured in images acquired and displayed by agents.
"We still want the public's help in identifying John Doe and the victim in the disturbing series of images that continue to be circulated on the Internet," Birotte said.
The pictures in the case show a male and female adult sexually molesting a girl who appears to be about 13. The identity of the girl has not been determined.
Montemayor's son, Paul Tucker, told KCAL9 he met the alleged victim when he was living with his mother, but she was not a minor.
"She was 18 ... just looked real young, but over 18," Tucker told the station.
Tucker said his mother was working as a prostitute at the time the photos were taken, and Montemayor knew the alleged victim's mother.
"The story we had gotten from her was that her mother was prostituting her and that maybe my mom had gotten in a fight with her mother," Tucker told Channel 9. "... She said her mother had left her high and dry with a drug habit."
He said he did not know the man shown in the photos, but said he may have been a potential client.
Anyone with information or tips that can assist the investigation was urged to call (866) 347-2423 or access http://www.ice.gov/tips.