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Goleta Valley Junior High Student Accosted Near Campus Helps Create Sketch of Suspect

The 13-year-old girl and her mother meet with detectives to go over details of last week's incident, but few new details emerge

[Noozhawk’s note: The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department released a sketch of the suspect in this incident on Feb. 10, 2011. It has been added to this report.]

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department on Monday worked with the Goleta Valley Junior High School eighth-grader who was accosted by a stranger last week to create a sketch, which could be used to try to identify the man.

The Sheriff’s Department created this sketch of the suspect using details recalled by the victim.
The Sheriff’s Department created this sketch of the suspect using details recalled by the victim.

“Unfortunately, it was no one I recognized, but the details she was able to recall were amazing,” the 13-year-old’s mother told Noozhawk.

Detectives were assigned to the case after Thursday’s incident and went over the details with the girl and her mother on Monday.

The specifics of the incident are slightly different than originally reported. The girl was walking home from the school on 6100 Stow Canyon Road about 2:15 p.m. when she was approached by a man in a vehicle who drove toward her and offered her a ride from the opposite side of the road. When the girl declined, the driver made a U-turn in front of the school and drove back toward her in the same direction she was walking, according to the victim’s mother, and demanded that she “get in the car!”

At that point, the girl turned and ran, and the driver sped off toward Fairview Avenue.

The girl described the suspect as “an old guy” with white hair and whiskers on his chin and wearing a red baseball cap. He was driving a “square,” older, dark blue car and she said he followed her as she left campus. The girl did not get a license plate number but she and her mother later browsed Internet car sites and determined that the four-door vehicle may have been a late 1980s Toyota Camry.

The girl’s mother said when she arrived on campus about 20 minutes after the incident, she found her daughter locked in the principal’s office with Rogers and the sheriff’s deputy.

“My daughter was sitting hunched over, in tears,” she said. “She’s usually pretty confident, outgoing and lively, but it was like she was in shock. She hadn’t even taken her backpack off.”

Although the responding officer did provide her with an incident report number and the telephone number of the Sheriff’s Department switchboard, the mother said she was frustrated with the response — she got phone calls from the school and the Sheriff’s Department on Monday, four days after the incident — but was glad the community received notice afterward.

“Anyway, the awareness was out there, which was good, but very humbling to know it was your own daughter when they have it on the news,” she said.

As of Monday, there was no new information on the case, according to Sheriff’s Department spokesman Drew Sugars. The Sheriff’s Department provides law enforcement in the neighborhood under contract with the City of Goleta.

On Friday, deputies patrolled the area on the lookout for the suspect but hadn’t spotted him. Sugars said that in such situations, a computer composite drawing can be put together and distributed if the description is specific enough.

Meanwhile, the Santa Barbara School District sent out a TeleParent call reminding families to talk to students about safety, traveling to and from school with a buddy and not talking to strangers, according to district communications director Barbara Keyani.

She said the call was sent out in English and Spanish to GVJHS families, and the district notified surrounding schools and neighboring districts. The system was authorized right after the Zaca Fire and is used regularly to inform parents about school-specific or districtwide events or community-related emergencies.

Some parents reported not getting last week’s call, which can happen if people hang up on the automated message or the line is repeatedly busy, Keyani said.

Superintendent Kathy Boomer sent a letter home with La Patera parents, and Santa Barbara Charter School — which shares a campus with Goleta Valley Junior High School — also sent a notice to parents last week.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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