What Happened at the Foot of Cape May Last Week? Was It Sexual Assault or Just 2 Drunken Friends?

by on August 14, 2015 · 19 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, Life Events, Ocean Beach, Women's Rights

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Site of sexual assault witnessed by neighbors.

Last Saturday, we reposted a news account from TV Ch8 about a sexual assault in OB in broad daylight that had occurred on Thursday, August 6th at the foot of Cape May Avenue. Witnesses had called police and ended up very dissatisfied with the attitude and activities of the arriving officers.

The alleged attacker was initially detained by witnesses but only hours later arrested by police and led away in handcuffs. One of the key witnesses was informed later that he was released and not charged.

There was a lot of interest in the story among our readers, so we wanted to provide an enlarged picture of what happened.

Arriving on Cape May, I found “Con” Harris who lives nearby and who had been the key witness to the incident. By profession, Con is a geologist and he’s lived in OB for 6 years. I asked him to describe what happened.

On last Thursday, the 6th, Con told me, around 12:30 in the afternoon, he had just finished doing some work from home and he wanted to get some eats, possibly walk the dog. He had called up two buddies who came over to go out to lunch with him. They hung out with Con at his beach house.

When they finally decided to go out for food, they crossed the deck and went through one of the wood gates that leads to the beach – and right there – at the edge of Con’s property, right off his deck – was a man and a woman going at it right there in the sand at the foot of Cape May.

Con and his friends were disgusted – it’s mid-day – at the beach – lots of kids around – and said some words to the couple.

“The guy pulls out, gets ready to go,” Con told me, “then we realize she’s not moving.”

The guy tries to wake her and says to her, “C’mon, let’s get going …” but she’s not responding.

The woman was completely unconscious Con and his buddies realize. This is not right. One of the buddies gets on his cell and dials 9-1-1.

The guy, Con said, starts to get out of there and hops on his bike. But Con grabs part of the bike and says,”You’re not leaving. Cops are on their way.”

“The guy is too hammered to walk,” Con said later to me, “and she’s still out.”

While Con hung onto the guy’s bike, one of the friends threw a blanket over the nude woman, and the other friend moved up the sidewalk to make sure no kids walked up on the scene.

First the Fire Department and para-medics arrive, Con recalled. The cops came quickly after that. Taking her into the ambulance, the para-medics tried to revive her. Finally, she began making noises. This was about a half hour after Con and his friends stumbled upon the couple.

The police officers also talked to her inside the ambulance.

But time kept ticking. After an hour has gone by, the guy had still not been arrested. He had been walked across the street by police and had been questioned, apparently.

Finally, very frustrated with the inaction of the cops to what Con and his friends thought was a rape or sexual assault, Con asked one of the first officers to arrive, Officer Green, why the cops had not made an arrest yet.

The officer, Con later recounted, shot back:

“I know them. What do you want me to do – take them downtown? Are you victims?”

The cop seemed pissed off at him and his buddies, Con said. His attitude sucked.

Meanwhile other neighbors had emerged to check out what was going on. There was the ambulance and 4 cop cars that arrived, Con said. Channel 8 arrived and interviewed one of the friends.

Finally, Con was so frustrated, he asked for the sergeant and ended up speaking with the one on site. “He was smarter,” Con said, “and listened to our complaints.” He asked Con and his buddies to stick around while police investigated.

It was 3 and a half to 4 hours later, Con remembered, the guy was finally handcuffed and taken away.  Later Con was told by that sergeant that the man was released without being charged.  The woman told police that she consented to the sex.

This wasn’t the last of it, though. The incident and a report was posted on one of the OB facebook pages … and Con said, “there was a lot of negative blowback. Some people questioned our actions.” Con continued, some asked why Con and his friends had blown the situation out of proportion. The facebook blew up with nasty comments.

Con admitted that he was “blown away” by some of the responses and negativity directed toward him, forcing him to defend his actions – moving on a sexual assault in the middle of the day.

The following Monday, the cops called Con and asked him to watch one of their videos and to see if he wanted to change his complaints about Officer Green. He didn’t.

We called Lt Bill Carter at Western Division for a response or update and he is what he told the Rag:

“A sexual assault did not occur. A couple of people who know each other got quite drunk. Both were arrested for drunk and disorderly. She went to detox. He went to jail.

We had body camera videos. We’re satisfied with the actions of the officers at the scene. Right now, we’re not giving it a sexual battery.”

What about it being indecent exposure? I asked.

We didn’t see it happen. It’s a misdemeanor and the officer must see it. Otherwise people can make a citizens arrest. No one wanted to make a citizens arrest.”

Lt Carter also explained that police asked one of the witnesses to come in and view the police body camera videos – but declined.

It is true that in order for police to make a misdemeanor arrest, they must witness it. But they don’t have to witness a felony – which is what rape or sexual assault are.  And plus, someone unconscious cannot give consent.

There were 3 witnesses to something that wasn’t right.

 

 

 

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Sammy August 14, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Something is very wrong with someone having sex w an unconscious person.
She is apparently covering for him. The entire thing is sad.
OB gets worse daily with so many things.
I personally say a Great big Thank you to Con for trying to do the right thing,
I wonder why one of the witnesses didn’t want to view the video. I guess he didn’t want to get more involved. I guess I can understand but that is why OB is in such a constant sad state of affairs. Most people don’t care except for themselves.
Too much drugs and alcohol in OB. So sad
Don’t even pay any attention yo the FB people, they are clueless . The ones that didn’t support you . I would be glad to have you as s neighbor.

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Debbie August 15, 2015 at 9:13 am

Did anyone record the behavior of the two or the police officers actions?

FYI…just passed on Aug. 11 signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown “SB 411 clarifies individuals’ First Amendment right to record police officers by stating that a civilian recording while an officer is in a public place, or the person recording is in a place he or she has the right to be, is not violating the law,” according to a statement from Lara’s office. “Additionally, it makes clear that recording does not constitute reasonable suspicion to detain a person or probable cause to arrest.”

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Sunny August 15, 2015 at 11:07 am

Sounds like a typical day in OB.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page August 17, 2015 at 9:41 am

That is a ridiculous comment. You don’t know OB well at all.

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john August 17, 2015 at 9:52 pm

Whether you mean:
A. People’s propensity to party then make love where its convenient including other people’s yards or…
B. Police indifference to crimes against obecians…

The historical records support these points.

(To the credit of the police obecians didn’t make them feel too welcome in those days which were a little before my time… My old neighbors Chuck and Sherry described them well enough)

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OB Dude August 16, 2015 at 9:34 am

Suggestion….have Officer Green repeat this program

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John#9 August 16, 2015 at 9:37 pm

Couldn’t she have passed out after the momment of consent? Only my second time posting here, and I noticed someone else already posts under the name John so I changed mine. Thanks.

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john August 17, 2015 at 2:48 am

Oh good god she told police it was consensual as far as they and anyone with common sense goes that’s the end of the story. If they found roofies or something I’m a blood test you might have something.
Guy was a real stud I guess… She falls asleep in the middle of it in daytime no less.

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Bill Southwell August 17, 2015 at 10:19 am

Two issues here: Might want to read “Missoula” by John Krackauer on what a rotten venue the criminal justice system is for resolving “acquaintance rape” cases.

Certainly, the intentions of the citizens appear excellent and the response of SDPD (esp. in view of their recent negative image) appears to fall short of the best standards.

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john August 17, 2015 at 9:46 pm

Cops only make arrests when there is a good chance of a conviction in court. With the alleged victim stating from the get go it was consensual I dont think a court in the land would get a conviction and why should they? The justice system does not exist to indulge the expectations of a third party’s pursuit of a full conclusion of his good Samaritan episode.
As much as I and most men would be repulsed to attempt a sexual act with a drunken woman on the verge of or already passed out that doesn’t make this sexual assault and only she knows what went on that day and its not for us to decide she’s wrong just as we should never take away their choice on related matters.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page August 18, 2015 at 10:26 am

Your comments are good ones, John, but I think the first sentence is not really accurate. Cops make arrests when it appears that someone has broken a law, they do not make any judgments about possible convictions. It is up to the DA of the City Attorney to decide if there is a chance of getting a conviction in court before a person is actually charged. Getting arrested doesn’t always result in a charge.

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Bill Southwell August 20, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Geoff,

First don’t forget the misdemeanor vs. felony restrictions. Then, cops only need “probable cause” to make an arrest (and they still enjoy significant discretion). The prosecutor must prove a case “beyond a reasonable doubt”. That’s what I meant in my earlier post that the criminal justice system is not always the best venue for acquaintance rape incidents. But remember that the limited research available indicates that 10% of acquaintance rape suspects are believed to be responsible for 85% of the reports. That makes them “predators” in my book.

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john August 20, 2015 at 11:37 pm

Cops don’t arrest people just because they think they broke the law. They arrest them if they think they broke the law and they have enough evidence to present to the prosecutor to make a convincing case. Yes the prosecutor makes the ultimate decision but cops don’t want to get beat in court nor fill the jails up with people they hold for three days and release so its silly to think the police don’t have the ultimate outcome in mind when they make an arrest. Why do you think evidence collection and witness testimonies are part of their job? It isnt just “I think he broke the law” but “I think he broke the law and if I can’t prove that with evidence the DA isnt gonna touch this”.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page August 21, 2015 at 11:42 am

John, as Bill said above, cops arrest people if there is “probable cause” of a crime, which can be a far cry from an acutal prosecution. The first responders on the scene are the arresting officers. Sure the police collect evidence and interview witnesses but most of that happens after the arrests. The officers on the scene interview some winnesses and maybe look for evidence if say a weapon is involved but they do just enough of this to make a field decision about an arrest. They do not have to reach a threshold of collected information that they know will lead to a successful prosecution For arrests made after an investigation that has taken some time, I’m sure this is a consideration but not for this kind of incident.

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john August 22, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Is there a point to all this besides proving your propensity to filibuster over an irrelevant subjective diversion- and be just wrong because if you were right then police performance evaluations would only count the number of arrests and not grade them also on how many lead to convictions. They do.
My position is that police are not going to arrest someone over an alleged crime when the supposed victim won’t even say it’s a crime nor testify to that effect in court and I stand by it.

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Ronin August 21, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Pretty sad reporting here both by News 8 and the OBRag; all hear say and he said she said accounts. Officer Green is one OB’s finest, even-tempered officers, and the account from the department along tells a very different story than the one reported. SDPD even offered to show the footage from the body cameras but all parties including News 8 declined. It is really sad how news organizations rush to publish stories without having all of the facts in check, and then when the information is wrong, there is no willingness to publish corrections. Shameful.

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Doug Porter Doug Porter August 22, 2015 at 12:02 pm

So the SDPD offered to show body cam footage? That should be a headline all by itself. Do a little research on the SDPD’s body cam policies next time.

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john August 22, 2015 at 1:27 pm

You’re entirely right Doug the illusion of body cams leading to the truth getting out is just that. The body cam footage will be produced readily when its in their favor. However that’s a little detail you overlooked, we can assume the police believe the footage will clear them of wrongdoing so they would be expected to offer it up. Hopefully complete and unedited.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie August 24, 2015 at 9:26 am

Ronin, an eyewitness’ testimony is not hearsay. Con Harris witnessed the incident – as did 2 other witnesses. Again, this is NOT hearsay.

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