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Man accused in roadside attacks has one charge dropped, one added

A Cotati man accused of flagging down women on darkened Sonoma County roads and molesting them is headed to trial, but one charge connected to a Calistoga Road attack was dropped Monday morning and another charge was added.

Judge Ken Gnoss, who last week ruled Thomas Boccaleoni, 44, should be held to answer for two other assaults, said there wasn't sufficient evidence of contact in a Jan. 6, 2009 incident in which a woman rolled up her window and sped away after pulling over.

Now, instead of facing allegations of assault with intent to commit rape, Boccaleoni will be charged with attempted false imprisonment, also a felony.

Although Boccaleoni was alleged to have put his hands on the top of the window as it was going up, evidence presented in a preliminary hearing last week falls below the level necessary to show intent, Gnoss said.

Prosecutor Jason Riehl argued details of the assault were similar to two other attacks on women. One was on Bennett Valley Road and another in rural Sebastopol. Boccaleoni was held to answer in those cases.

"It's the same story," Riehl said. "The same M.O."

He remains in custody. His next hearing is Feb. 11.

Boccaleoni, a former Marin County chef, is accused of faking roadside emergencies to molest women. Victims testified he drove behind them, flashed his high-beam lights and then fondled them after they pulled over. Two women said he threatened to kill them if they didn't comply.

At trial, he faces eight felonies, including genital penetration, assault with intent to commit rape and false imprisonment.

He faces up about 40 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.


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