Monday, July 23 , 2018, 3:42 am | Fair 68º


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SB Police Make Arrest in Attempted Rape of Homeless Woman

Suspect, a 40-year-old probationer, had eluded capture on several occasions before being caught

Ronald Roy Gifford (SBPD photo)
Ronald Roy Gifford (SBPD photo)

A 40-year-old man on felony probation has been arrested in connection with the attempted rape of a homeless woman late last month, the Santa Barbara Police Department announced Monday.

Ronald Roy Gifford was taken into custody Sunday after the alleged victim and her husband saw him playing pool in a bar on the 400 block of State Street, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood.

The woman reported the attack to police the night of March 23, telling officers she and her husband had planned to sleep on the beach near Cabrillo Boulevard and Calle Puerto Vallarta. Just prior to the assault, the woman had returned to a nearby homeless shelter to retrieve some blankets.

On her way back to the beach, she told officers, she was accosted by a man who was riding a bicycle, whom she recognized as someone who tried to sell her marijuana earlier in the day. He allegedly pushed her into some bushes and attempted to rape her.

Meanwhile, her husband had become worried, Harwood said, and went to search for his wife, when he heard her screams and came to her aid. The husband and the assailant struggled before the suspect fled, leaving behind his bicycle and some personal belongings.

Since the attack, the victim and her husband had observed the suspect on several occasions, but each time he was able to flee before officers arrived, Harwood said.

Gifford, who also is homeless, was arrested at about 5:40 p.m. Sunday and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of assault with the intent to commit rape, a felony, with bail set at $100,000. He also was being held for a probation violation.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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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