Zachary Coughlin, formerly known around the Isla Vista community as the man behind the “Mirror Bus,” was convicted today on all 14 charges, ranging from forcible rape to kidnapping with intent to commit rape, just over a year after he was arrested in May 2020.
The conviction was announced Thursday after a jury found Coughlin guilty of the crimes, included penetration of an unconscious/intoxicated person, forcible oral copulation, forcible rape, rape of an unconscious/intoxicated person, and kidnap with intent to commit rape. The jury also found that Coughlin committed aggravated kidnapping and specified sexual offenses against multiple victims.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley said that Coughlin was “indisputably a rapist who preyed upon extremely vulnerable victims.” He was arrested in Isla Vista after complaints from multiple women to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and the UC Santa Barbara Police Department that he was stalking and harassing them. At the time, Coughlin had a large bus that he had repainted and decorated with lights and mirrors parked on the streets near UCSB, and was said to have invited people inside when they were intrigued by its appearance.
During the investigation leading up to and after the arrest, detectives Kevin McGillivray and Anthony Kouremetis of the Special Investigations Bureau found multiple videos that appeared to depict Coughlin having sexual intercourse with unconscious women. Several months of intensive investigation, with the help of supervising victim advocate Rita McGaw, led to multiple additional victims of sexual assaults coming forward and ultimately the successful prosecution, according to a statement from the District Attorney’s office.
Dudley said that “but for the bravery of the testifying victims/survivors this defendant would never have been prosecuted.” She noted her “deep appreciation and admiration” toward prosecutors Megan Chanda and Michelle Mossembekker, as well as members of the Sheriff’s Office. “Now,” Dudley said, “as a result of all of their collective efforts, the defendant will no longer be able to prey upon any more victims.”
Coughlin is scheduled to be sentenced on September 23.