Police investigate armed rape in People’s Park

A man with a gun raped a woman in People's Park on Sunday Sept. 1. Photo: Tracey Taylor
A man with a gun raped a woman in People’s Park on Sept. 1. Photo: Tracey Taylor

A man with a gun raped a female victim in People’s Park over the weekend, police said Tuesday.

Sunday between 10 p.m. and midnight, the man approached the female in the park, forcefully moved her to another location in the park, and pointed a firearm at her before sexually assaulting her.

Police said the victim, whose age was not available, knew the man from prior contacts, and reported the assault Monday. The man was described as Filipino, in his early 30s, and approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall with a medium build. He had short black hair and dark-colored eyes.

The University of California Police Department sent out an alert Tuesday morning about the incident.


Lt. Eric Tejada, of the University of California Police Department, said Tuesday afternoon via email that this type of sexual assault, in which the assailant uses a firearm, is “not common at all.”

“I don’t remember one like this in recent history,” he said.

Tejada said he did not know if the victim was a park regular or had just been passing through the area.

So far this year, the university has received four sexual assault reports including this one. Police identified suspects in the other three cases. In two of those cases, said Tejada, the Alameda County district attorney’s office declined to file charges, and one case is still pending.

In 2012, the department received six total sexual assault reports, he said.

University of California police responded to the incident Sunday because People’s Park, bordered by Dwight Way, Bowditch Street and Haste Street, falls under the university’s jurisdiction. The park is located south of the UC Berkeley campus east of Telegraph Avenue.

The department continues to actively work the case, Tejada said. Police ask anyone with information to call the department’s criminal investigations bureau at 510-642-6760.

Earlier this month, state legislators announced plans to audit sexual assault policies and procedures at Cal and three other state schools. The decision came after a group of nine students at UC Berkeley “filed a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education that alleged the school had inadequately investigated their sexual assaults.”

According to the LA Times, the audit should be complete within seven months, and the other campuses that will be reviewed have not yet been selected.

A broader look in Berkeley

Sexual assaults have been of particular concern this year in Berkeley after a preliminary annual crime analysis by the Berkeley Police Department showed the number of reported rapes citywide had increased from 20 in 2011 to 39 or more in 2012. (Federal data list 43 reports last year; there can be discrepancies in data due to when data are reported, when crimes are reported, new information resulting from investigations, and more.) Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said Tuesday via email that, although an exact figure is not yet available, this year’s reported sexual assaults seem to be “about the same as last year” at this time.

Felony and misdemeanor sexual assaults reported in Berkeley since March 7, the longest time frame available via CrimeMapping.com.
Thirty-five felony or misdemeanor sexual assaults reported in Berkeley since March 7, the longest time frame available via CrimeMapping.com. (Click the map for a list of incidents.)

According to data sent by the Berkeley Police Department to the FBI, reports of sexual assaults citywide had largely been on the decline since 1985, the earliest year available online via the Uniform Crime Reports. From 1985 to 1990, reports of sexual assaults ranged from 4-5 per 10,000 people. For most of the 1990s, it was closer to 3. Until 2011, the rate dropped again to about 2-3 per year. But then last year, according to preliminary 2012 data from the FBI, the rate jumped to nearly 4 reports per 10,000 people.

At the same time, overall violent crime rates in Berkeley — for murder, manslaughter, robbery, aggravated assault and rape — have dropped steadily, from a high in the early 1990s of 160 reports per 10,000 people to just 43 in 2012.

A February report by Berkeley’s police chief about crime in 2012 noted that “stranger rapes” continued to be a “rare occurrence” in Berkeley, and that officers had begun “conducting additional sexual assault awareness and prevention training … with key stakeholders” to try to address the surge. Officers had planned to focus special attention on students around campus, as many of the reports were clustered in that area.

Berkeley Police officials also noted earlier this year that an increase in reported incidents could potentially be a positive sign, showing that outreach and awareness efforts are paying off, and that more victims are feeling empowered to come forward to speak out about assaults that previously went unreported. Additionally, they noted, overall the number of sexual assault reports is so small that it can be difficult to draw accurate conclusions from the data.

Cal’s Gender Equity Resource Center has collected information about sexual assaults on a special page on its website. For more information, visit the Bay Area Women Against Rape website.

Related:
45 years to life sentence for sexual assaults in Berkeley (07.12.13)
Crime in Berkeley up 11% in 2012, but longer trend is down (02.06.13)
UCPD creates night patrol unit for south of Cal campus (01.29.13)
Berkeley’s Southside gets new joint police focus (08.25.10)

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