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 Sunday 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.

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)

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our All the News grid.

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  • berkres

    Par for the course here

  • West Berkeley Neighbor

    It’s really genius to operate an open-air, no-hold-barred homeless shelter in the middle of town. That’s good city (and university) planning and management. And the surrounding area is blossoming as a result!

  • JohanNilsenNagel

    Most of these types of assaults are probably committed by a handful of bad seeds, so the numbers from year to year completely depend on chance. Berkeley is high on the transient perigrination route so it just takes one rotten apple to spoil the good vibes for everyone. Weed these criminals out and you have friendly hippies (or “travelers,” crusties,” “punks,” “vagabonds,” “hobos,” whatever) ruling the park.

  • Shannon

    “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.”

    This is unacceptable. If “received a report” means that a victim had the bravery to come forward and report a sexual assault, and suspects have been identified, the DA shouldn’t be dropping these cases, but filing charges and prosecuting the assailants. Rape and sexual assault are not crimes that should be taken lightly, and the notion that the burden of proof is so often on the VICTIM to prove a rapist’s guilt rather than on the RAPIST to prove their innocence is awful because, in practice, it puts an immense (and unfair) amount of pressure and scrutiny on someone who has already suffered greatly enough and put a lot on the line to even come forward about it. Far too many victims of sexual assault decline to report these crimes because they know that they won’t be believed, and they will be expected to provide thorough evidence that an assault even occurred. They will be questioned, doubted, pushed and prodded, and oftentimes even criticized for inciting the assault in some way or fabricating the entire story just to “ruin someone’s life.” If our community – starting right here in Berkeley and Alameda County – wants to prove that we take these crimes seriously, then we need to work to create a climate that supports, trusts and protects victims; that encourages them to tell their stories; and, ultimately, that encourages people not to commit rape in the first place (because no, rapists aren’t just “bad seeds” or dark shadows hiding in an alleyway; they are friends and acquaintances, lovers, and spouses of their victims FAR more often than they are strangers).

    The least our county’s legal system can do to start working towards a safer environment is to pursue these cases seriously and file charges against the suspects. To that end, I think the Alameda County district attorney has the responsibility to be proactive to let our community know that something will be done. What are the local policies on performing rape kits on victims after assaults, and when rape kits are collected, do the police always test them? Assuming they do, do they do so promptly or leave them in evidence lockers for months or years, as some police departments do? If the DA isn’t filing charges, what steps are they and the police taking to find the people responsible for these sexual assaults – not just to bring them to justice, but to protect others who could become their victims in the future?

    I demand more from our local government. We deserve it. These victims deserve it. We are better than this.

  • Name

    I agree that the DA needs to prosecute these cases. Rape is a horrible crime and we need to do more to support victims and bring the perpetrators to justice. But you also advocated for:

    -suspects to be presumed guilty until proven innocent

    -victims being under no expectation of providing evidence

    -the police taking extrajudicial punitive action on suspects, when they aren’t charged with/convicted of any crime

    There’s this thing called the Constitution of the United States of American that forbids all that, and rightly so.

  • JuiceJeasel

    Let’s offer up a warm and loving prayer for the victim of this haness crime.

    May she heal.

  • Guest

    Okay folks. Until the City (not the UC) has the courage to say “uncle” this will continue. Our state assembly member is a sworn protector of the Park (she has said so publicly). The City is spending a lot of time and money on the revitalization of Telegraph, with several partner community organizations. All of them know that the Ave itself is NOT the problem. Sidewalks and street trees are fine, lights are fine, etc. The problem? Yes – PEOPLE’S Park. I don’t even know what PEOPLE anymore. It’s not me, my family or my friends, or anyone else I know who actually lives in Berkeley. Students certainly don’t hang out there.
    Let’s do something useful with the land besides provide free, open air homeless sheltering and gutter punk shooting galleries. But of course if we did that, the rest of the world might not think of Berkeley as an impetuous, self-destructive child anymore.

  • Just Sayin’

    They’re all rotten apples.

  • http://www.kimskitchensink.com/ Kim’s Kitchen Sink

    “So far this year, the university has received four sexual assault reports including this one.” — Is “this year” this academic year (if so – eek!) or this calendar year?

  • ConditionBerkeley

    Time to turn it into People’s Parking Lot

  • The_Sharkey

    Is there any way that we could get a vote on the shutdown of the park on the ballot?

    Or, at the very least, that the city government could apply pressure to the UC to force them to adequately light and police the park, and fit it with high-resolution security cameras?

    People’s Park has been a festering sore in the heart of downtown Berkeley for several decades too long.

  • ironhase67

    People’s park is cesspool. If you are going to have a people’s park,
    why not make it one that people can actually use and that aspires to the
    people’s better qualities–science, art, music–aren’t these for the
    people–or is it just failure, urine, and drugs that are of the people?
    It is particularly ironic that the city saw fit to put in playground
    equipment a few years back, like any self respecting parent would take
    their kids to play there. Berkeley, SF and some other cities live in
    this fictional world where park denizens are somehow all hard luck cases
    with no other options that are being held down by society. In my
    experience living by the park and chatting with people there with some
    frequency 75%+ of the people in it are just vagrants, often in their
    twenties and thirties who wasted their lives on parties, drugs and
    alcohol, and the other 25% of people are so mentally disabled or drugged
    up they should not frankly be allowed to live anywhere outside an
    institution (I know its all Reagan’s fault because he closed the mental
    facilites 30 years ago–at the request I might add of the progressive
    establishment which decried such institutions, and the Gipper was
    supported by Ted Kennedy and others in this decision for the most part).

  • disgusted

    How selfish of people to blame this rape on “the park”. They exploit the crime against this woman in order to advance a political cause whose actual relation to the crime is so tenuous as to be a mockery.

  • emraguso

    I believe it was calendar year but I’ll let you know if that’s not the case.

  • Shannon

    When did I advocate for police taking “extrajudicial punitive action” on suspects? If the suspects in the three cases mentioned above were actually eliminated as suspects after further investigation, that should have been specified in the article, because they would no longer be relevant. If, however, they are still suspects, then they should still face scrutiny – to the same degree that any suspect in any open criminal investigation should. However, unlike with other criminal investigations, rape cases are often put on the back burner and acted on less rigorously by law enforcement than other crimes, so I’m not going to apologize for demanding that the police pay more attention to those cases. They absolutely should not act extrajudicially; those were your own words. They should do their job, which means raising the bar when it comes to rape and sexual assault – crimes too often neglected.

    And as for the dynamic between the rapist and the victim when it comes to the burden of proof, it’s obviously a complicated issue, but nonetheless one that needs to be considered. In my opinion, this gets at how we fundamentally define rape; is it the “legitimate rape” or “forcible rape” that clueless politicians espouse? Is it only “real” rape when a victim is not only raped by the attacker by visibly beaten as well? Is it only rape if there’s a witness, as some states defined it even within the past decade? Is it still rape if the victim initially gives consent but then withdraws it? Is it rape if the victim gives drunken “consent”? Etc. Some of these questions are no-brainers, and others are more complex, especially once you get into the arena of “date” rape or acquaintance rape. Personally – and undoubtedly, this may be a controversial position – I’m most interested in seeing a definition of rape that prioritizes the victim’s experience of violation. And by telling a victim that the assault did not happen unless they can unequivocally and individually provide the evidence of that implies a fundamental denial of that person’s lived experience, another phenomenon too often connected with rape.

    One can be innocent under the eyes of the law (and treated as such by law enforcement) until proven guilty while still contributing to their own defense. Suspects are expected to provide alibis, and to identify witnesses who can corroborate those alibis. That is common practice. Furthermore, you’re wrong that I argued against victims providing any evidence; I think rape kits should become a far more common practice than they currently are. And I’d say that undergoing a detailed medical examination – the results of which become crucial evidence in your case – after experiencing an assault is already a much more trying way of providing evidence than a suspect giving police an alibi. Where I think that burden should end, however, is in cases where victims – particularly female victims – are relentlessly questioned about their sex life and sexual history, their sexual or romantic relationship with their attacker, their behavior before/during the assault, their attire, their state of inebriation, etc. They are essentially put on trial for the crime that was committed against them. Not always, but far too often. I wouldn’t call that a trivial concern.

  • http://www.kimskitchensink.com/ Kim’s Kitchen Sink

    That would make more sense, I think, but thanks for checking!

  • The_Sharkey

    No one is blaming the rape on the park.

    They’re blaming the park for bringing criminals and rapists into the area and giving them a free and semi-lawless place to hang out during the day and night.

  • Culper Agent 355

    I’m not sure I understand why campus police should be in charge of the investigation, if that’s true. The property belongs to UC, I understand that. But just because it belongs to UC doesn’t mean they should have jurisdiction over a crime committed on property not contiguous to campus. Crimes committed on other school properties are not investigated by their local security officers. I’m not saying UCPD is incompetent, but I think they have a bias towards finding no crime in some cases, and that concerns me. These are my opinions, so don’t freak out.

  • TN

    Suspects can not be compelled to talk at all. They have the right to remain silent. They can remain totally mute. They can not be “expected” to provide an alibi. Nor can their silence be taken as a sign of guilt. The police and the prosecutors have the obligation to positively prove their case through evidence. The burden is on them. This is basic to our system.

  • Che Joubert

    It’s true though that many people including myself and family avoid that park. It seems like a place that has become a false symbol, that in real life simply attracts a bad element. By bad element I mean, whether they’re homeless, or drifters, or kids or what, lots of males spread out and leer at women, block their way, strew their stuff around is a proprietary way, and generally act like they own the place. Of course you can’t blame just the park for a rape, but sure, places, not just people, can contribute to crime. That park has often been used, in my opinion, to make Berkeley look bad.

  • disgusted

    Che I could count obnoxious behavior like richies blocking the way and acting unduly entitled as among the reasons I tend to avoid gourmet ghetto. Obnoxious drivers up there, too. The park has its issues but is almost unrecognizable from the descriptions it gets in these comments. It’s cheap opportunism to exploit this rape to ride anti-park hobby-horses, not that that will stop some people.

  • Keep My Name Out Of This

    An advisory vote on the park would reveal what most of us know; there is very little community support for the status quo.

  • Johnd09

    Violent crime in a richie area such as Sausalito (trust me they act VERY entitled there) is something like .86 per THOUSAND. That’s something like 32 TIMES less violent crime per capita than oakland. Saying that rich people “acting entitled” is the same as someone gunning you down because you didn’t give them “respect” is the kind of Berkeley thinking we get made fun of. And while I enjoy lying out in many parks, “people’s park” is not one of them. My guess is poor immigrant families, poor local families trying to make ends meet ALSO avoid it, because they don’t want their kids caught up in the scene there. The “people” of people’s park have taken it away from everyone, PARTICULARLY the poor. The richies can travel out to burning man, yosemite, the high sierra in their $50K land rovers. The poor, stuck inside watching TV.

  • Shannon

    Yes, police and prosecutors – not the victim. If I implied otherwise, it was my mistake. The fact that the onus is on them is exactly what I was trying to get at in the first place; sexual assault cases (and handling them with tact and respect) should be a far higher priority for police and prosecutors than is currently the norm in too many areas throughout the country.

  • Truth Sayer

    No matter how you slice it, rapes and sexual assaults are high in Berkeley.

    http://city-crime-statistics.findthedata.org

  • The_Sharkey

    Higher per capita violent crime rate than NYC? And almost 6 times as much property crime per capita?
    Ugh, how depressing.

  • guest

    People’s Park is under $1/year lease to, and controlled by, the City of Berkeley.

  • Truth Sayer

    The way I see it, so many decision makers are trying so hard to be PC, they fail to realize that they are actually being socially stupid at the expense of a wonderful community.

  • Truth Sayer

    Will you please stop being so truthful, as it hurts our ears. Wait a minute….. Ok, our heads are buried in the sand. Please continue because we can’t hear you. It’s so wonderful being a decision maker around here, because we don’t have to decide anything. Except, the size of coffee each morning. And, that is getting more difficult to decide.

  • WAK Anamjem

    Amazing story ..A Philippino in Rape Assault daringly with agun in a open Park..I have bitter experience of my travel to Philippine..mens normally most cook at hom and care children, Flipinas work hard and pretned like husband…? might be.. mos tmen were found ‘ Gays ‘ ,,,most men were found a soft and obedient nature ..How could be him ? might have seen a action movie..? but what the hell doing a woman alone in a isolated park ? was she hooker or insane ?

  • another guest

    I don’t think this is true anymore. The City of Berkeley used to lease the park, but it hasn’t done so since 2000. City Council also voted to repeal the section of the Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC) that defined the rules for People’s Park because it was no longer enforceable because they no longer leased the property.

    per the COB website: People’s Park is owned, managed, and maintained by the University of California.

  • I’m jes’ sayin’

    “but what the hell doing a woman alone in a isolated park ? was she hooker or insane ?”

    This post is beneath contempt let alone comment. How has it stayed up for more than six hours?