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Man Arrested on Suspicion of Rape by Intoxication

DNA test leads to charges against Michael Joseph Holden, 36, who police say impregnated the victim

Michael Joseph Holden
Michael Joseph Holden

A Santa Barbara man accused of rape by intoxication and burglary was arrested July 15 after an investigation that tracked him to Mexico and back, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

In September 2011, Michael Joseph Holden, 36, allegedly raped a 29-year-old woman who became pregnant with his child, said Sgt. Riley Harwood.

Officer Andrew Merrett was notified of a sexual-assault investigation by Planned Parenthood in October, and met the woman and her father. The woman said she had been raped a month earlier by Holden, a friend of three months, after a night of heavy drinking in downtown Santa Barbara.

Merrett’s investigation found that the woman had left a downtown bar after waiting for a friend, and decided to text Holden, “desiring companionship and the opportunity to vent to someone about her female friend failing to meet her as planned,” Harwood said.

They met up and went to two other bars, including Mel’s Lounge, where Holden said he worked and had an open tab. They reportedly drank heavily then walked to Holden’s house in the 200 block of Cottage Grove Avenue.

The woman told detectives she remembered going to the bathroom, then waking up with a headache sometime during the night. Holden gave her what he said was headache medication and a beverage.

Her next memory is waking up at noon the next day partially undressed, Harwood said. When confronted a few days later, Holden denied it that they had sex, but about four weeks later the woman started getting physically ill and realized she was pregnant, Harwood said.

“Given the early stage of the pregnancy, the victim knew that the only person that could have been the father was Holden. On October 6, 2011, the victim confronted Holden with this information, however he denied being responsible for the pregnancy,” police said.

The victim had an abortion at a Ventura County medical facility, and two police detectives recovered the fetal remains – “one of the worst jobs we have in the police department,” Harwood noted – and sent them to a California Department of Justice Crime Lab for DNA testing.

Holden didn’t return calls to police, so Det. Brian Larson contacted Holden at a Probation Department office in February, where he was reporting due to a felony burglary, and obtained a cheek swab for DNA analysis. Within days of that interview, Holden fled to Mexico.

Police won’t disclose how, but they tracked his movements through Tijuana, Puerto Vallarta and other cities.

Meanwhile, Larson learned from the crime lab that Holden was the biological father of the fetal remains collected for this case, and obtained a $100,000 felony arrest warrant for rape by intoxication.

When police heard Holden was back in California this month, teams were staking out downtown, trying to think of places he would go, Harwood said.

Police then learned Holden was in Palo Alto, Calif. for medical treatment on July 15, and arranged to have Palo Alto police arrest Holden in the Stanford University Hospital Emergency Room, Harwood said.
He is also the suspect for a July 14 burglary and possession of stolen property in Palo Alto, and was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail.

According to the Palo Alto Daily News, police searched a Tanland Drive apartment in Palo Alto where he stayed with an acquaintance, and found laptops and cash stolen from another apartment in the building.

Holden was being transported to Santa Barbara County Thursday morning, and Larson was able to increase his bail to $1 million.

It’s the second rape-by-intoxication arrest in as many weeks. Santa Barbara police are searching for additional victims of a man they describe as a “serial rapist,” who is being charged with rape of an unconscious person, rape of an intoxicated person, penetration of an intoxicated person with a foreign object, sexual battery and use of a controlled substance.

Jerry Providence Bonhomme, 30, of Santa Barbara is being held in the County Main Jail on $100,000 bail, Harwood has said.

He allegedly sexually assaulted highly-intoxicated women he met at local bars and parties.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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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