Man arrested in Forestville rape

Authorities say El Molino High School security cameras, tattoo helped ID a man suspected in a weekend rape on the campus.|

A masked man who sneaked up behind a woman walking on a Forestville road, held a knife to her and then raped her at nearby El Molino High School was in custody Tuesday morning, Sonoma County sheriff’s Sgt. Ruben Martinez said.

Videotape taken from the high school’s new security cameras and a distinctive tattoo of a shrunken voodoo head helped sheriff’s deputies make the arrest.

Suspect David Kocalis, 24, was arrested Sunday morning while driving in Forestville. He was being held at the Sonoma County Jail without bail and is suspected of five felonies, including rape and kidnapping, stemming from Saturday night’s alleged assault.

The 18-year-old victim initially didn’t recognize the suspect because of the mask, but after being shown a photo of him told detectives Tuesday she’d met him a few times, Martinez said.

Whether she was targeted because he knew her or if the attack was random remained under investigation, he said.

The incident occurred at about 8 p.m. Saturday. The woman had been walking on Covey Road, headed home, and was near the school when she was grabbed from behind by the armed man, she told deputies.

She said he wore a black nylon mask pulled down over his head and that he forced her to the east side of the school’s tennis courts, next to a small shed.

The assault could have lasted up to 20 minutes, Martinez said.

She went home afterward and called for help at about 11 p.m., reporting she’d been raped.

The woman said her attacker had driven off campus in a black SUV. Video surveillance tape showed it was a black Porsche SUV.

The victim also told deputies the man had a tattoo of a shrunken voodoo head.

Deputies contacted school officials at 3 a.m. Sunday, asking to see any surveillance film from campus cameras, said Keller MacDonald, superintendent of the West Sonoma County Unified School District.

This summer, the district put in a new camera security system at its three area high schools, and officials were able to hand footage over to deputies.

“It was one of the important things we thought we needed to do on all our campuses. I’m glad it helped out,” MacDonald said.

At about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, a deputy patrolling in Forestville spotted a black Porsche SUV on Highway 116 and stopped the driver. The man behind the wheel had, in plain view, the same tattoo the victim had described, Martinez said. He had borrowed the SUV from a family member.

Several deputies gathered at the car and arrested Kocalis on suspicion of rape, kidnapping and other sexual assaults.

Martinez declined to describe the knife or say whether deputies found it.

Kocalis, a Guerneville resident, has a criminal history dating back about three years, including a few misdemeanor arrests and convictions in 2011 before he was arrested and convicted of felony burglary in 2013. He served at least part of a one-year jail sentence.

On July 25, he was arrested again, suspected of a felony and two misdemeanors, possessing narcotics and obstructing an officer and selling alcohol to a minor, according to court records.

Kocalis was out on $10,000 bail and due in court Oct. 3 when he was arrested Sunday.

On Saturday night, Kocalis had parked at the high school, but it wasn’t clear why he was there, Martinez said. There were no sporting events going on at the time. Detectives on Tuesday were looking for witnesses.

School officials didn’t alert El Molino students and families about the alleged rape on campus until Tuesday morning.

Principal Matt Dunkle made an announcement during school, and the district put out an automated phone message about the assault and arrest, including that no students were involved, MacDonald said.

The superintendent said no earlier notice was necessary as they had little information about the investigation and because the incident didn’t involve students and school time.

“It was on the campus, but it wasn’t during school hours and not during a time students had been (at the) school,” MacDonald said.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.?

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor