SRJC attempted rape still unsolved

Students and staff at Santa Rosa Junior College have left for winter break without a resolution in the Nov. 10 case of an attempted rape of a staff member on campus.

Maintenance crews have installed peep holes on office doors and changed a lock in Burbank Auditorium where the attack occurred. Theater department staff members and others have learned self-defense from a karate instructor.

But Santa Rosa police say the unknown attacker may still be at large, although they are awaiting state crime lab tests to see if a Sebastopol man might be a suspect.

Officers said they found few solid leads after a man assaulted the SRJC staffer in an office in the back of Burbank Auditorium. The crime lab has yet to analyze evidence from the scene to determine if it is connected to Odalis Solano Rosario, 27, who was arrested Nov. 17, accused of trying to rape a pregnant neighbor.

"Right now we don't have any particular person we're looking into," Sgt. John Snetsinger said. "It's a who-done-it case."

He said detectives are waiting for the crime lab's results.

"We're not putting our eggs in one basket or any basket at this point," he said. "We follow any leads we get. Honestly, these things take a long time to pan out."

Cases without suspects are top priority when criminologists consider what evidence to process first, said Jill Spriggs, director of the state Bureau of Forensic Sciences.

"You want them off the street, so you do them first," Spriggs said.

She would not comment on when the SRJC evidence would be analyzed.

Classes were not in session on the morning of Nov. 10 when the longtime SRJC staff member heard knocking on a door in the back of Burbank Auditorium. She opened the door and a stocky man holding a shirt over his face shoved her to the ground.

She has said she tried to hit the man with bottles and any object she could grab. He knocked them from her hand and held her down by sitting on her head. She tried to reason with him, she said, but realized that wasn't working and began screaming. That's when he fled the building.

The attacker left her bruised and beaten, but she said she was grateful she had the strength to drive him away.

"I feel really lucky because I got out of it and I'm still here," she said in an interview days after the attack.

She employee described her attacker as a short, stocky Latino male, perhaps 25 to 30 years old, with short, spiky brown hair. The attacker wore gloves and thick pants. She said she never saw his entire face.

There was blood on her clothes and at the scene, but it was likely hers, she said.

Such attacks are rare at SRJC, campus Police Chief Terry Stewart said.

In 1997, a Santa Rosa man dragged a female student into a toilet stall and sexually assaulted her. The man, Charles Patrick Uerling, was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

Stewart's department turned over the latest assault case to Santa Rosa police because it lacked the resources to pursue the investigation.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or e-mail julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com.