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Sexual battery suspect in Dublin jail

By Jia-Rui Chong Daily Planet staff
Wednesday March 27, 2002

A man suspected of sexual battery and attempted rape along the BART path running from Berkeley to El Cerrito is now in police custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. 

Richmond resident Valentin R. Aguilar, 25, was arrested at his workplace in Berkeley on March 13. A warrant for his arrest was issued on March 12. 

Officials at three police departments said a man on a bicycle rode past female joggers and walkers grabbing their private parts. The cases in Berkeley, where the earliest reports were filed, go back to 2000. 

The worst incident was reported in El Cerrito. According to Detective Scott Cliatt at the El Cerrito Police Department, a man attacked a blind woman along the BART path with the intent to rape her. 

Aguilar faces a total of eight counts of sexual battery, six in Alameda County and two in Contra Costa County. In addition, Aguilar faces one charge of attempt to rape and one charge of false imprisonment in Contra Costa County. He will be tried in two separate courts because Albany and Berkeley are in Alameda County, while El Cerrito is in Contra Costa County. 

The charge of false imprisonment, when a person is held against his or her will, carries a further penalty because the woman who is blind qualifies as a dependent. 

The suspect was identified by some of the victims, who were shown a photograph. But the process of identifying the victim was tough, said Detective David Bettencourt of the Albany Police Department, because the man would grab women and then keep right on going. Victims often did not get a good look at his face. 

Although the BART path is generally very safe, said Cliatt, crimes from robbery to assault occasionally happen. 

“Imagine an area where there are lots of people, lots of foot traffic. There are just going to be crimes,” he said. 

Lt. Cynthia Harris, who said the BP get several calls for sexual battery every month, said that the BP tries to take a proactive approach to these types of cases by distributing alert flyers and making the community more aware of the crime. 

Police are still investigating the sexual battery cases along the BART path, so anyone with information should contact Detective DeBlasi in Berkeley at (510) 981-5735, Detective Bettencourt in Albany at (510) 525-7300 or Detective Cliatt in El Cerrito at (510) 215-4420.