DNA evidence has led to the reactivation of a 2011 “cold case” and the arrest of a 20-year-old Goleta man for allegedly raping a woman in a downtown restroom, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Raul Antonio Yescas was taken into custody Wednesday at the Santa Barbara County Probation Department office at 4500 Hollister Avenue, where he had gone to meet his probation officer, said Sgt. Riley Harwood.
Yescas was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of rape by force or fear. Bail was set at $100,000.
Yescas is suspected of raping a 20-year-old Los Angeles woman whom he met on April 14, 2011, at a bus stop at UCSB, Harwood said.
The woman, who had been visiting a friend at UCSB, told officers that she and the man who later sexually assaulted her took a bus to the MTD Transit Center on Chapala Street downtown, and he convinced her to walk with him to the Amtrak Station on lower State Street rather than take a second bus, Harwood said.
En Route, the victim told the man she needed to use the restroom, and he suggested the ones on the upper level of the Paseo Nuevo mall, Harwood said.
“They went to that location and the victim used the restroom while Yescas waited outside,” Harwood said. “After approximately three minutes, Yescas entered the restroom, forcefully raped the victim, and then fled.”
The victim, shocked and scared, made her way to the Amtrak Station, calling a friend while en route who helped her report the attack to police, Harwood said.
Officers Jared Hall, Kody Cardana, and John Nelson responded to the train station. Their investigation included a forensic medical examination of the victim, the evidence from which was sent to the California Department of Justice crime lab for analysis.
After extensive investigation by the Police Department’s crimes-against-person unit, the case eventually was placed on inactive status due to a lack of leads, Harwood said.
However, in September of last year, Santa Barbara County sheriff‘s detectives arrested Yescas in connection with a burglary a month before at a home in the 900 block of Ward Drive in Goleta, Harwood said.
Yescas eventually was placed on probation in that case, which required him to submit a DNA sample to what is known as CODIS — the Combined DNA Index System.
In April of this year, Santa Barbara police investigators were notified by the Department of Justice that body fluid other than the victim’s had been detected among the evidence gathered and sent to the crime lab for analysis as part of the rape case.
With DNA analysis now a possibility in the investigation, Harwood said, the case was reactivated.
On Oct. 15, detectives were notified that the DNA in the rape case was a match for the sample submitted by Yescas, Harwood said.
“Detective Charlie Katsapis further investigated and confirmed that Yescas was the subject that was with the victim on the bus and at the Transit Center just prior to the rape,” Harwood said.
An arrest warrant was obtained, leading to Yescas’s arrest Wednesday afternoon by Katsapis and Det. Brian Larson.
Confronted with the DNA evidence after his arrest, Yescas admitted that he had been with the victim at the time of the incident, and that he had sex with her, Harwood said, but claimed it was consensual.