Woman testifies in hearing for man accused of raping two women in University City

Jeremiah Ira Williams (San Diego Police Department)

SAN DIEGO – A woman testified Wednesday that she was beaten, choked and raped by a man who followed her to her University City apartment after she returned from a beach outing.

The woman said the armed assailant took her phone and wallet and dragged her into her bedroom, where he forced her into unwanted sexual acts.

The testimony came as a preliminary hearing got underway for 26-year- old Jeremiah Ira Williams, who is accused in the Aug. 13, 2016, attack and another sexual assault the following evening.

The alleged victim in the University City case identified Williams as her attacker.

“I remember his face,” the woman said.

She testified that Williams told her not to call police or he would come back.

Another woman testified that she was raped by a man in a Grantville motel room the night of Aug. 14.

On Aug. 17, San Diego police detectives were sent to Sharp Memorial Hospital to investigate the sex-assault report and interviewed a 23-year-old woman who described being attacked by an acquaintance at the motel on Alvarado Canyon Road three nights earlier.

Detectives subsequently determined that officers responding to that assault had arrived to find the woman gone, but gathered evidence from the motel room for possible use in case a victim came forward.

Police also determined that Williams had been detained on the night of the second crime by California Highway Patrol personnel who happened to be in the area when the attack was reported and spotted him lurking in a nearby canyon.

Due to a lack of a victim and sketchy information about what happened at the motel, Williams was released with a citation for a gun violation, though his pistol was confiscated, police said.

It would be several days before detectives realized that two very similar assaults had occurred that weekend. Physical evidence and victim interviews implicated Williams in both attacks, according to authorities.

San Diego police said “numerous” tips from the public aided authorities in locating the suspect, including information that placed him in Arizona, where he was believed to have been living. The defendant was arrested Oct. 27 in that state and brought back to San Diego.

Williams faces more than 100 years to life in prison if convicted of forcible rape, sodomy, making criminal threats, assault with a firearm and false imprisonment, said Deputy District Attorney Trisha Amador.

At the conclusion of Williams’ preliminary hearing, which will continue Thursday, Judge Kathleen Lewis will decide if enough evidence was presented to order the defendant to stand trial.