Cousins Arrested for Raping Homeless Woman

Santa Barbara police have arrested two cousins — Juan Romero, 30, and Gabino Romero, 26 — for allegedly raping a 62-year-old homeless woman at knifepoint on East Beach early Wednesday morning.

Juan Romero

According to police spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood, the two men spent the night before the incident drinking on Stearns Wharf and “discussed finding a homeless woman to sexually assault.” They set out to find a victim, and several hours later came across the woman and her 69-year-old male companion. “While brandishing a knife,” Harwood said, “Juan Romero and Gabino Romero physically subdued the two subjects and took turns sexually assaulting the woman.”

Gabino Romero

After the attack, the victim entered the lobby of the nearby DoubleTree Resort and told staff she had been raped. Police officers arrived at around 3:50 a.m. and arranged for a forensic medical exam of the woman. They also put her in touch with the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, Harwood said. Detectives quickly identified Juan Romero as one of the suspects, and arrested him at around 3:15 p.m. at a construction site on the 800 block of Picacho Lane in Montecito. A few hours later, Gabino Romero was pulled over as he drove in the 2600 block of Las Positas Road and was arrested.

Both men have been booked in County Jail with bail amounts of $250,000 each.


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