Tustin police have arrested a man who is suspected of groping several women and a girl over the past several weeks. He was taken into custody on Sunday after a woman identified him at a Tustin apartment building.
According to authorities, they had received five similar reports of sexual battery since April 19, all describing a man with a comparable description who approached the female victims and grabbed or touched them in a "private area." All incidents occurred in Tustin, though at various times of the day and different locations. Some victims said they were jogging or walking at the time and others were approached while at mailboxes. Victims reported that the man had "grabbed the buttocks," "tried to kiss one of the victims" and "grabbed the vaginal area of one victim and lifted the dress of another victim." He then fled the scenes on foot.
The 23-year-old man was booked into Orange County Jail after his arrest on suspicion of multiple counts of sexual battery, according to a Monday report by Tustin police.
His arrest occurred on Sunday after one of the alleged victims spotted who she believed had groped her. According to police, the woman told her husband, who followed the man and detained him at a local apartment complex until police arrived. The woman then positively identified the man when the officers had him in custody.
According to police, the suspect has no criminal history. It is unknown whether there may have been other incidents of sexual battery in the area that were not reported.
Sexual Battery Charges in California
California Penal Code Section 243.4 defines the criminal offense of "sexual battery" and describes penalties that may be imposed on a defendant who is convicted of this crime. Sexual battery may be defined as touching another's intimate parts (breast, genitals, buttocks) against the consent or will of another person when done for the purposes of sexual gratification, sexual arousal or sexual abuse. This offense may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in California, with penalties ranging from 6 months to 1 year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000 (misdemeanor sexual battery) or 2, 3 or 4 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000 (felony sexual battery).
As a sex crime, sexual battery is a serious offense that requires equally serious legal counsel. If convicted of a misdemeanor or felony sexual battery, a defendant may face lifetime registration as a sex offender, which may affect employment, residence, reputation and more. A sex offender must register and reregister with law enforcement and must also comply with certain terms of his or her registration, such as avoiding certain types of employment or being unable to live within a certain distance of a school.
In the situation discussed above, the suspect may face misdemeanor charges if law enforcement secures sufficient evidence to proceed with a case. Because the man is suspected of committing multiple counts of sexual battery, he may face penalties for each alleged offense. With five counts, this could add up to five years in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Whether the case proceeds and the type of charges and penalties pursued remain to be seen, however.
One of the first steps any person accused of sexual battery, assault or any sex crime should take is to contact a criminal defense attorney. These are some of the most serious criminal charges and may immediately impact one's job, reputation and personal relationships. At The Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman, we are committed to protecting the rights of defendants, suspects, and arrestees throughout the Orange County area. To learn more about our firm and how we may be able to help you, please contact our offices for a confidential consultation.