Friday, August 17 , 2018, 5:06 am | Overcast 68º


Local News

Alleged Gang Members Arrested in Sexual Battery on Eastside

Two young men have been arrested on charges of felony sexual battery after one allegedly groped a woman and another blocked her way as she was walking home from a bus stop on Santa Barbara's Lower Eastside on Wednesday night.

Edgar Jesus Rojas
Edgar Jesus Rojas

Santa Barbara Police Department officials said that both men are Santa Barbara-area gang members.

Edgar Jesus Rojas, 18, and Jose Angel Moran, 19, both of Santa Barbara, were arrested on charges of felony sexual battery and other offenses, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood.

About 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, a 52-year-old female victim, a Santa Barbara resident, was exiting a bus at a nearby bus stop, and "while walking on the sidewalk, she was followed by the suspects who started harassing her with catcalls," Harwood said.

Rojas allegedly groped the victim, touching one of her clothed intimate body parts, while she was walking in the 300 block of South Voluntario Street  

"Moran then blocked the victim’s movement on the sidewalk while Rojas made a lewd remark and tried to grope the victim again," Harwood said. "This time she resisted and the suspects stopped when they perceived that their actions were being observed by a witness. The victim was distraught from the experience."

Officers responded to a call of sexual battery at 7:43 p.m., with the two suspects last seen to the rear of an apartment complex in the 300 block of South Voluntario Street, Harwood said.

Upon arrival, Rojas and Moran were contacted on the rear stairway of the apartment building, and when Rojas resisted the officers’ efforts to detain him and attempted to flee, he was subdued by a Taser, Harwood said.

Jose Angel Moran
Jose Angel Morane

Moran was found to be in possession of a concealed screwdriver, which he acknowledged he was carrying for use as an improvised weapon to protect himself from rival gang members, Harwood said.

"He was also found to be in possession of an aerosol paint nozzle commonly used by graffiti vandals," Harwood said.

Rojas was arrested and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of sexual battery and resisting or delaying an officer, and Moran was arrested and booked into jail on charges of sexual battery, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger and possession of a vandalism tool. 

Harwood said both men had bail amounts set at $25,000.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >