Santa Cruz man accused of drunken sexual assaults

A 36-year-old Santa Cruz man is facing multiple sexual assault charges after police say he targeted drunken women in bars and took advantage of them.

Santa Cruz police say James Sharp is in custody after being arrested twice in connection with a series of sexual assaults where, according to investigators, he would meet the women and “eventually have sex with them while they were blacked out, or too intoxicated to give consent.”

Sharp was initially arrested after his home near downtown Santa Cruz was searched on May 9 as police investigated a sexual assault complaint from a few days earlier.

During the search, police say they were able to link Sharp to other women who had also reported being assaulted.

In announcing Sharp’s arrest, Santa Cruz Deputy Chief Steve Clark said:

“Evidence was obtained that connected Mr. Sharp to additional victims.  Mr. Sharp collected trophies in remembrance of his victims that included photos or personal items.”

Included in the photos was an image of a woman who had told police in late April that she had been sexually assaulted after having blacked out.  At the time, the woman could provide few details about her attacker.

But when investigators contacted the woman, they say she identified Sharp as the man who had assaulted her.

Sharp was free on bail after his initial arrest earlier this month, but last Saturday police found him in a local bar and arrested him again.

After his arrest during the weekend, a judge ordered Sharp held on $5 million bail.

Police had withheld releasing information about the latest arrest until yesterday while they continued to investigate.

Because investigators believe Sharp may have taken advantage of other women, they’re encouraging any additional victims to come forward.

Deputy chief Clark said:

“Unfortunately, Mr. Sharp’s method of operation is a fact pattern too often reported to SCPD. In these situations females report being victimized after drinking to the point where they pass out and/or black out and are unable to adequately care for themselves. In these circumstances they are extremely vulnerable and oftentimes cannot recall details of the attack. These are incredibly difficult cases to solve, as oftentimes there is little or no suspect information or evidence. “


John Marshall is an SFBay editor and producer and writer for San Francisco’s KGO Radio.  Follow him on Twitter @breakingnewsman.

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