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Local News

Two Accused of Raping Homeless Woman in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Police have arrested two men they allege are responsible for the rape of a homeless woman at knife point on the waterfront Wednesday.

Juan Carlos Herrera Romero, 30, was arrested on charges of rape in concert with another by force or violence and oral copulation in concert with another, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood.

Gabino Andres Grande Romero, 26, was also arrested on charges of rape in concert with another by force or violence, Harwood said. 

The men — cousins who reside in Santa Barbara — are charged with assaulting a 62-year-old homeless woman on East Beach adjacent to 600 E. Cabrillo Blvd. during the early morning hours of July 16, Harwood said.

At 3:53 a.m., officers responded to the lobby of the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Boulevard, to contact the  victim who had entered the hotel lobby and informed staff that she had just been sexually assaulted, Harwood said.

Gabino Andres Grande Romero

Investigation revealed that the Romeros spent the evening of July 15 fishing on Stearns Wharf, where they consumed beers and discussed finding a homeless woman to sexually assault, Harwood said.

"They set out to find a victim, and several hours later encountered the aforementioned woman camping on the beach with a 69-year-old male companion," he said. "While brandishing a knife, Juan Romero and Gabino Romero physically subdued the two subjects and took turns sexually assaulting the woman."

Investigating patrol officers located the crime scene on the beach, arranged for a forensic medical examination of the sexual assault victim, and put her in contact with an advocate from the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center. 

By 5:15 a.m., several detectives from the SBPD Crimes Against Persons Unit had been called in and assigned to conduct follow-up investigation, and by early afternoon they had identified Juan Romero as one of the suspects in this case, Harwood said. 

Juan Carlos Herrera Romero

At 3:17 p.m., they located him working at a construction site in the 800 block of Picacho Lane in Montecito and arrested him, and by late afternoon the detectives had identified Gabino Romero as the other suspect in this case. 

He was taken into custody after he was spotted driving in the 2600 block of Las Positas Road at 9 p.m.

Searches were subsequently conducted at Juan Romero’s residence in the 1100 block of Indio Muerto Street and Gabino Romero’s residence in the 3400 block of Richland Drive.
 
Both men were booked at Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $250,000 each.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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