A recent string of sexual assaults could be related, and local police are hoping to find more information to identify a suspect.
On April 18, a woman reported that she was attacked from behind while walking in the Mustang Village area off Foothill Boulevard in San Luis Obispo. The attacker, who police describe as a white or Hispanic man in his 20s, pulled her skirt and underwear to her knees and she fell to the ground and screamed, prompting the attacker to flee.
The report was strikingly similar to word of an April 8 attack in the Cerro Vista Apartments on the Cal Poly campus. According to a University Police Department press release, a woman was attacked from behind by a Hispanic man in a dark gray hoodie marked with a thin blue line. He, too, reached up the woman’s skirt and fled when she screamed.
San Luis Obispo Police Department Capt. Chris Staley told New Times that the department occasionally receives reports of serial attacks, though they’re not common. With sexual assault cases, he said, it’s often difficult to find a suspect, as the attacks often occur in the dark, the victim is typically too shocked to put together an accurate description of the attacker, and there are rarely witnesses.
Staley said the most recent attacks are almost certainly connected; the same attacker may have been involved in two reports from January.
Earlier this year, two other victims made similar reports: One incident occurred off campus when a Cal Poly student was attacked in downtown SLO; another was reported on campus when a student had a pillowcase thrown over her head as the attacker tried to remove her clothes.
“It’s close enough to where we at least suspect they may be connected, but we cannot say whether they are,” Staley said.
Local officials are urging anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 549-STOP or online at slotips.org. Witnesses can also contact the SLO Police Department directly at 781-7317, or University Police at 756-2281.