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Child Exploitation

ICE aids in investigation of Orange County woman arrested for out-of-state child molestation

LAKE FOREST, Calif. - A 36-year-old Lake Forest, Calif., woman was taken into custody here Friday by investigators with the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) on suspicion of child molestation and rape of a 13-year-old Maryland boy.

Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) provided substantial assistance in the investigation and arrest of Rachel Ann Hicks, who is accused of befriending the boy she met on the Internet and traveling to his Maryland home to engage in sexual relations with him.

On January 4, Maryland State Troopers advised OCSD investigators that the initial contact between Hicks and her victim took place in September through an X-Box live chat room. The online relationship progressed to phone calls, texting, emails and the exchange of sexually explicit images and movies. Hicks, who told the boy she was 23, flew to Maryland and met him at his home, where they engaged in sexual intercourse over the Thanksgiving holiday. Soon afterward, the victim's family discovered "romantic" text messages on the boy's cell phone and he told his family what had occurred.

Despite using a fake name and bogus age, HSI agents were able to identify Hicks through subscriber information related to the Hicks' family cell phone. Hicks' identity was confirmed by Maryland police, who obtained a "no bail" warrant for her arrest on two counts of rape, one count of a second-degree "sex offense," and one count of sexual solicitation of a minor.

On January 7, OSCD and HSI investigators executed a search warrant at Hicks' residence. During a subsequent interview, Hicks admitted there was an additional minor male victim in California. All of the evidence collected in the case is being forwarded to the Harford County Sheriff's Office in Maryland to aid in their ongoing investigation and with efforts to identify the second possible victim.

"We're extremely concerned there may be more young victims in this case who've not yet been identified, and are continuing to assist our law enforcement partners with this ongoing investigation," said Joseph Macias, assistant special agent in charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations in Orange County. "Pedophiles who mistakenly believe they can evade the law by going out of state to sexually exploit innocent children should know we're using every tool at our disposal to keep our young people safe - whether they are around the block or around the world."