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UCSB police sergeant calls gang rapes of two students 'horrendous'

Crime, Law and JusticeSexual AssaultLaw EnforcementCrimeUC Santa Barbara

The second reported gang rape of a UC Santa Barbara student in as many months has shocked authorities in charge of patrolling an area not unaccustomed to sexual assaults.

"We do have sexual assaults that happen, but something like this ... is horrendous," said UCSB Police Sgt. Robert Romero, whose department patrols Isla Vista, a densely populated unincorporated community next to campus where the attack took place.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kelly Hoover estimated that more than 60% of Isla Vista's residents attend UCSB but the area swells on weekends with out-of-towners coming for parties.

"Unfortunately, sexual assaults are not uncommon in the Isla Vista area; however, this case is extreme," she said. "To have a victim assaulted by several suspects is terrible."

The 19-year-old woman was beaten and raped by three men sometime between 12:30 and 4 a.m. Sunday in Isla Vista.

The woman went home and reported the rape to her roommate and authorities. Sheriff's deputies searched the area but did not make any arrests. University police who patrol Isla Vista will be more visible in coming days, officials said.

A witness reported seeing the woman walking north alone between midnight and 12:30 a.m. on a stretch of Embarcadero del Mar near Segovia Road between the town's business and residential districts. The woman was not sure where the men attacked her and could provide only a vague description, officials said.

"It appears to be a crime of opportunity, but we just don't know yet," Hoover said.

Another woman reported being sexually assaulted earlier that night by an unidentified man. Authorities were not sure if the attacks were related, Hoover said.

Sunday's was the second gang rape of a UCSB student in the area in two months. In the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 18, an 18-year-old student was raped next to the campus. Deputies arrested three people in connection with that incident.

University police who patrol Isla Vista will be more visible in coming days, officials said.

Information can be reported anonymously at (805) 681-4171.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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Crime, Law and JusticeSexual AssaultLaw EnforcementCrimeUC Santa Barbara
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