Sheriff deputies arrested a local man accused of attempting to rape a woman after he picked her up in his van in the Canal neighborhood, according to Lt. Barry Heying.
Gerardo Mendoza, 33, was booked in early Thursday morning on suspicion of kidnapping and assault to commit rape. His bail is $100,000.
At approximately 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday a pair of witnesses reported seeing a woman running down North San Pedro Road screaming that she had been raped and that she needed help, Heying said. A blue Voyager van was following the woman, but it took off when she arrived at
The victim told deputies that she was walking in the Canal neighborhood when a stranger approached her in his van and asked her if she needed a ride home. She agreed, but soon noticed after entering the car that he was headed toward and not downtown San Rafael where she lived.
The suspect pulled into the turn out before China Camp, known as Buck’s Launching, and began placing his hands under her clothing, according to Heying. The victim refused, left the van and headed east on North San Pedro Road.
The suspect allegedly followed the victim and attempted to get her back in the vehicle, the woman told deputies.
Another witness reported seeing the van continue past Venetia Valley Elementary to the 100 block of Merrydale Road. Deputies found a van with a warm engine matching the description of the suspect in the parking lot of a nearby apartment complex.
The victim identified the van and Mendoza as the suspect, according to Heying. Deputies also found an electronic time card with Mendoza’s name on it left at the Buck’s Launching site.
“At first he denied knowing her at all,” Heying said. “But when he was confronted with the evidence he chanced his story and confessed to taking her to China Camp with intentions of having sex with her.”
Mendoza still denied attempting to get her back in the van, and told deputies that he followed her because he was trying to apologize, according to Heying.
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