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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.

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