Pinal teen sex assault suspect faces arraignment - CBS 5 - KPHO


Pinal teen sex assault suspect faces arraignment

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Tyler Kost (Source: Pinal County Sheriff's Office) Tyler Kost (Source: Pinal County Sheriff's Office)
Tyler Kost (Source: Facebook) Tyler Kost (Source: Facebook)
(Source: Facebook) (Source: Facebook)

An arraignment hearing for an Arizona teen accused of multiple sex crimes against underage girls in the San Tan Valley area has been moved to Friday, May 23.

Tyler Kost, 18, of San Tan Valley, faces 27 felony charges, according to the indictment filed May 8, including 10 counts of sexual abuse, nine counts of sexual conduct with a minor, seven counts of sexual assault and one count of child molestation.

Kost was re-arrested by Pinal County sheriff's deputies as the number of potential victims climbed to 18 and according to Sheriff Paul Babeu, there could be more.

Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles said the judge ordered Kost to be held without bond based on the severity of the allegations against him. At that time, Voyles said the investigation was still ongoing.

Kost had posted bail after he was arrested on April 28 based on PCSO's investigation of 13 of Kost's alleged victims.

Since then, PCSO said it has identified five additional cases.

After he was picked up again, detectives requested that he be held on a "no bond" status, Gaffney said.

Nearly all of the potential 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.

"Once we started looking at it, it immediately started to mushroom," said Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. "We absolutely believe there will be far more victims that are out there."

Kost is 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.

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 citizen tipped off a Pinal County sheriff's detective assigned to the Persons Crimes Bureau. Initially, the citizen 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.

A judge set bond at $10,000, which was quickly posted and Kost was released from custody on his own recognizance and was back with his family, until last Thursday. Kost was not wearing an ankle monitor, deputies said.

A spokesman with the Florence Unified School District said Kost has been officially suspended from Poston Butte Senior.

People with any information about the alleged crimes are asked to contact the Pinal County Sheriff's Office at 520-866-5149.

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