Gascón files felony charge against man accused of sexually assaulting woman in Long Beach

Gascón files felony charge against man accused of sexually assaulting woman in Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. - After days of public backlash for his handling of the Long Beach sidewalk attack, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is changing his mind. Gascón announced on Friday that he will file felony charges against 30-year-old Miguel Avila, who is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in broad daylight.

According to the press release, Avila has been charged with felony assault with the intent to commit a forcible sex crime as well as sexual battery. The announcement comes days after Gascón initially charged him with misdemeanor counts of sexual battery and vandalism.

So why the change?

In the press release, Gascón's office claimed during the earlier stages of the investigation the Long Beach Police Department did not give enough evidence that could have warranted felony filing – which was the reason for filing misdemeanor charges instead of felony.

"Consequently, the matter was referred to the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office for misdemeanor filing consideration. After filing a misdemeanor, the Long Beach City Prosecutor reached out to our office with new evidence that was not initially submitted to us," a press release Gascón's office read. "An experienced prosecutor in our Sex Crimes Division meticulously reviewed the new evidence and made the decision to file a felony charge."

Are you or someone you know a recent survivor of sexual assault? Help is available. Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) provides a 24/7 national sexual assault hotline, which can be reached at 1-800-656-4673.

The incident took place on October 20, where surveillance video shows a man walking up to a woman in a dark dress from behind and then lifting her dress, knocking her to the ground and running off after a good Samaritan jumped into the scene.