Two separate sexual assault crimes in Isla Vista occurred this past weekend, with suspects in both cases currently at-large, according to statements released by the Santa Barbara County Sherriff’s Office.
One victim, a 19-year-old female student, was severely beaten and raped by multiple assailants — described as Asian males — sometime between the hours of 11 p.m. on Saturday and 4 a.m. on Sunday. After the incident, the student returned to her home in I.V., her roommate contacted police and she was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of her injuries and an examination, according to a press release. The other victim was a female of undisclosed age who was sexually assaulted behind a vehicle on the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive. The assault occurred near a party held on the same block in the early hours of Saturday morning. The assailant was described as a 5’6” male of “thin build” with dark hair and dark eyes who fled west — away from campus — after the assault, according to the press release.
According to Santa Barbara County Sherriff’s Office Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, the recent incident of sexual assault in which one victim was beaten, as well as raped, by a group of suspects is a particularly rare and severe case.
“Unfortunately, reports of sexual assaults in Isla Vista are not uncommon; however, this is definitely an extreme case,” Hoover said in an email. “The incident underscores the importance of not walking alone, especially at night, and to do everything in your power not to put yourself in a situation where you could become a victim.”
Co-Chair of Take Back the Night — a campus group that supports victims of sexual assault — Kelty Kauffman, who is a second-year feminist studies and English double major, said the university and local law enforcement should do more to combat sexual assault on campus and in I.V., such as more educational campaigns.
“There is never enough. The fact that we don’t teach a thorough discussion around consent to our freshmen is a problem,” Kauffman said. “When freshmen have to take Gaucho FYI, there’s a very minor portion on consent and I think that should be elaborated on because a lot of people don’t actually know what the definition of consent is.”
While Kauffman said there is work being done to improve how the UC deals with sexual assault cases, she said there is still need for a change in how law enforcement treats rape cases and how victims are generally treated by society.
“Currently, we enforce a culture of violence,” Kauffman said. “I have heard personal accounts of the police in Isla Vista not taking rape allegations seriously here and being condescending or dismissive of survivors, and that continues to contribute to a culture that tell survivors not to come forward with their stories and allows rapists to go free.”
According to the press release, Sheriff’s Deputies and UCPD Officers are seeking information throughout the Isla Vista area as well as around campus to help identify and locate the suspects with the assistance of a Sheriff’s K9 Unit.
If you have any information on the cases, the Sherriff’s Office asks to call 9-1-1 immediately or to leave an anonymous tip call at 805-681-4171. For more resources regarding sexual assault, refer to the Women’s Center, Campus Advocacy Resources & Education (CARE) Program coordinator at 805-893-3778 or the Rape Crisis Center at 805-564-3696.