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Accused roadside attacker pleads not guilty

A Cotati man accused in three roadside attacks on women and suspected in 10 other cases pleaded not guilty to the charges in a Sonoma County courtroom on Thursday.

Thomas Boccaleoni, 44, also formally denied a prior burglary conviction stemming from a 2005 San Francisco case in which police said he stopped four women for directions, then sexually groped them.

Further proceedings are on hold because of the large volume of evidence collected in the case, including taped interviews with victims and witnesses, attorneys said.

It had not been determined whether Boccaleoni, a cook at Marin Joe?s in Corte Madera, would be represented by a private attorney or a county public defender.

Asked by Judge Rene Chouteau if he knew who his lawyer would be, Boccaleoni said, ?I have no idea. That?s a family matter.?

It was the only response Boccaleoni made beyond a prompt ?yes? and ?yes, sir? in response to questions about whether he was pleading not guilty.

Boccaleoni, a short, stocky man with short dark hair, a dark mustache and goatee, was in court briefly, wearing a gray T-shirt and navy jail shirt and pants.

He is charged with suspected sexual assault and eight other felonies, including assault with intent to commit rape and sexual battery.

Sonoma County sheriff?s detectives had been watching Boccaleoni for about a week when they arrested him at his home late on the night of April 28. He is charged in connection with two of 13 suspected attacks on women on the mostly rural roads during a five-month period.

Most of the cases involved women driving alone who reported a man - his face sometimes masked or covered ? flashing his headlights, driving alongside them and feigning emergencies to get them to stop.

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