An unidentified man allegedly spotted masturbating in front of the Women’s Center evaded capture Thursday after Women’s Center staff members called the Community Service Organization and UC Police Dept. to report him. The same man had reportedly been following a female student involved in the event the center was hosting.

According to Nathalie Han, the Women’s Center front desk associate who contacted CSO, the man had been following a female student who was part of a group of students from Hermanas Unidas of UCSB. The group was selling tostadas as part of the 11th Annual National Young Women’s Day of Action Feminist Faire, an event encouraging young women to become involved in politics and social issues.

Han said a friend of that female student asked her if she knew the man, and she said she did not know him. Han, a fourth-year political science major, said she saw the unidentified man standing in the crowd before he allegedly started masturbating. She said he looked creepy but was not doing anything wrong.

“Throughout the event, for about 30 minutes, there was this guy standing behind me,” Han said.

Han said the female student’s friend later informed Han that it looked like the unidentified man was masturbating while leaning against a tree in the lawn directly across from the Women’s Center lawn. The man’s genitals were not exposed, Han said, but “you could tell [what he was doing] by the look on his face.”

“He was pounding it,” she said.

Han said Sharon Hoshida, the Women’s Center programming director, confronted the man and asked him to leave. The man said he “had an itch” and did not leave, she said.

Han then called CSO for help, and the man fled toward the UCen when CSO and UCPD arrived at the scene, she said. UCPD officers pursued the man but were unable to catch him, Han said.

After the man evaded police capture, Han said she, the female student who had been followed by the unknown perpetrator, and UCPD Sgt. Cathy Farley viewed surveillance tapes from UCen security cameras.

“I worked with a police officer from UCPD for about two hours, looking at surveillance tapes,” Han said. “We patrolled in the officer’s car for about 10 to 15 minutes, but [we] didn’t find him, unfortunately.”

She said she and the female student identified a man on the UCen surveillance tapes as the same one who was allegedly masturbating in front of the Women’s Center.

Han said she was shocked by the incident, as were many of the people who were at the event and saw what the man was doing.

“What do you say to a guy who is masturbating in front of the place you work?” she said.

Megan Arch, a third-year English major and the programming and sexual harassment coordinator for the Women’s Center, said she didn’t actually see the man in the act, but Han later told her what happened.

“That’s really weird that happened at an event that was promoting the prevention of violence against women and sexual harassment,” she said.

Arch did have advice for anyone who might be thinking of imitating the unidentified man.

“If you need to get it on with yourself, do it at home, not at the Women’s Center,” she said.

UCPD Public Information Officer Bill Bean could not immediately be reached for comment, and the names of the CSO officers who arrived on the scene could not be found at press time. The name of the female student who was followed by the unknown man was not available at press time, and the co-chairs of Hermanas Unidas could not be reached for comment.