VISTA, Calif. — The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is investigating several reports of sexual battery at stores in North County.
Victims told police a man rubbed up against them while they were shopping, and then pretended it was an accident. The sheriff’s department released video of the suspect on Tuesday.
“I thought he bumped into me. But what I felt was my butt was being grabbed, and it was like a cupping. I jumped and screamed, you know, ‘What the f?’” Becci Carlton told FOX 5.
She said she was shopping at Michaels on University in Vista on Christmas Eve around 4:30 p.m. when a man she described as Asian, 20 to 30 years old, groped her. She said at the time, she believed it was an accident.
Two hours later, another woman was attacked at the Ralphs store on South Twin Oaks Valley Road in San Marcos – only this time there was no mistaking it for an accident.
“All of a sudden he comes and grabs my shoulders and he puts his pelvic area on my pelvic area. As he did that, another man walked into the aisle. When he did that, it startled me. I turned around and he said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I thought you were my friend, I thought you were my friend,’” Rachael Medillin said.
A third case was reported at the nearby Target on University Drive in Vista on Dec. 18 around 8:30 p.m.
Deputies said in all of the incidents, the man approached the victims from behind, grabbed their shoulders and pressed himself against their backside before claiming he confused them for a friend. The department said surveillance video shows the man inappropriately touching himself underneath his clothing before and after the assaults.
The sheriff’s department said the victims described the suspect as an Asian man between 20 to 30 years old, standing about 5-feet 8-inches tall and weighing between 140 to 150 pounds. He has a thin build with pale skin and dark straight hair. He was seen leaving in a silver car.
Anyone who recognizes the man in the surveillance photos or video is asked to call San Diego County Crime Stoppers. You can remain anonymous and be eligible for up to a $1,000 reward for information that leads to a felony arrest by calling 888-580-8477.