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Arizona high school student charged in sex attacks on 11 girls

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona high school student whom authorities accuse of being a serial rapist has been indicted on multiple counts of sex-related crimes for attacks on 11 girls, one as young as 12 years old, authorities said on Thursday.

Tyler Kost, 18, was charged with 27 counts of sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual conduct with a minor and child molestation for crimes against the alleged victims, ranging in age from 12 to 17, according to a grand jury indictment handed up on Wednesday.

The indictment states that the attacks began in October 2009 and continued through last month at various spots in San Tan Valley, a growing bedroom community about 50 miles southeast of Phoenix.

The court documents offer few details of the alleged crimes but show that in most cases prosecutors believed they took place in the victims' bedrooms or homes.

Kost, held in a county jail without bond, faces a minimum of 147 years in prison if convicted on all the charges, said Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles, at a press conference announcing the indictment.

The student's attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kost was first jailed on April 28 in connection with sex crimes against one victim and re-arrested three days later as sheriff's investigators tied additional victims to the case.

Sheriff's officials said the investigation began when a student told authorities about the alleged misconduct and said there could be as many as five victims.

Sheriff Paul Babeu said the investigation also came up with evidence that Kost threatened to kill victims and witnesses during his alleged rampage. The indictment does not charge Kost for those alleged actions.

Voyles said investigators are continuing to their probe and urged potential victims to not be afraid to come forward and speak to authorities.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Steve Orlofsky)

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