Authorities release sketch of Napa sexual assault suspect

NAPA, Calif. (KTVU) -- Police on Friday released a sketch of the man they're looking for who is suspected of committing a sexual assault in a bathroom on the campus of Napa Valley College.

Investigators are also trying to determine if the Napa assault is connected to another similar attack at a different North Bay campus.

The sketch of a Napa rapist has been released, and police are hoping it helps catch the man who attacked a woman in a college bathroom.

Investigators are also looking at whether the assault is connected to a similiar one, on a different community college campus.

"You think your campus is really safe, but how safe is it," posed Napa Valley College Associated Students leader Rafael Manzo.

He was among the few students on campus Friday, a day with no scheduled classes.

Flyers warning of the sexual assault last Monday are posted around campus.

Manzo told KTVU it was the topic of much discussion in and out of class all week, and he doesn't expect that to change when school resumes after Labor Day.

"Usually there are such long lines in the bathrooms, so for it to happen at that precise time, and no one came in, and all of that, it's unnerving," he said.

A student in her early twenties reported she was sexually assaulted by a man hiding in a bathroom stall in the Physical Sciences building at about 2 pm Aug. 31.

She was able to help a sketch artist come up with a composite drawing that shows a man with light eyes, and long dark hair.

"He has dowels in his ears, and it looks like there's a scar underneath his right eye, " detailed Napa Police Lt. Debbie Peecook.

An assault eleven days earlier was similiar, in a restroom at Santa Rosa Junior College, forty miles away.

That victim said she entered the restroom at about 9 pm, after an evening class, and was attacked from behind by a man dressed in black and weaing a knit beanie type mask that covered his face.

"It makes them unusual and a little bit suspicious," acknowledged Lt. Peecook, of the two assaults.

Investigators in both cities are comparing notes, she said.

"I don't think that we can ever say exactly what a criminal mind is doing so could it be a copycat? Yes."

Friday evening, at the quiet campus, swimmers age eighteen and under were practicing in the pool at Napa Valley College.

"It's scary, and scary to feel we have to be scared," Napa Valley Swim Team coach Caroline Beaver told KTVU, as she shouted instructions from the pool deck.

Since the warning came out, she has cautioned her swimmers to be watchful and stick together.

"Go in pairs, don't go alone," she recounted, "they can be alone poolside if they need to get a water bottle but if they're going to the bathroom, or anywhere, to be with somebody."

Neither of the sexual assaults turned up much forensic evidence because both restrooms had been used by other people, and had been cleaned, by the time the women reported.

"Your defenses are down because you think it's going to be a stranger in a dark

alley," noted Beaver, of the brazenness of the two attacks. .

Coincidence or not, these coaches hope their advice about personal safety stays with their swimmers for good.

"It sounds like they have the same m.o.," observed head coach Asher Green, "but we all have to understand sexual assaults probably happen on campuses more frequently than we would like to admit."

Widely under-reported, it's estimated that one in five college age women will be victims of sexual assault. 

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