In two separate incidents in less than a week, women in Berkeley have been surrounded and sexually groped by large groups of men, in one case as many as fourteen men, according to the University of California Police Department.
Last Friday at around 9:30 p.m., three women aged eighteen and nineteen were walking together eastbound on Channing Way near Bowditch Street when, according to a UCPD alert, "they were approached by a group of 7 to 8 black males in their late teens to early twenties. One of the group members walked up to one of the victims and touched her inappropriately. A second group member walked up to another victim and also grabbed her inappropriately. Then the second suspect punched one of the victims on the left side of her face. The suspects left the scene walking northbound on Bowditch." Police were summoned, but were unable to find the suspects in what they are calling a case of multiple sexual batteries.
Around 2 a.m. Sunday morning at a popular Grizzly Peak Boulevard parking area near Signpost 15, "a group of seven Hispanic women, all in their early twenties, were parked at the signpost looking out at the view," according to the UCPD, "when two vehicles pulled up. The occupants of the vehicles, a group of fourteen 20 year old males, exited their vehicles and approached the victims. One of the suspects asked a victim for a cigarette which she refused. The victims then decided to leave and as they attempted to get into their vehicle one of them was groped inappropriately by a suspect. Another victim was also groped while trying to enter the vehicle. At this point one of the suspects threatened to shoot the victims with a gun. The victims managed to get into their vehicle and flee the scene." Both Berkeley police and UC police were called, but unable to locate any suspects.
The seven or eight gropers in the Channing Way case are described as African American, aged eighteen to twenty; one had a shaved head and another had shoulder-length dreadlocks. Thirteen of the fourteen gropers in the Grizzly Peak case were reportedly Hispanic; one was African American. One of the suspects' two vehicles was reportedly a 1993 blue Ford van.—Anneli Rufus