SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Police say a 27-year-old woman was motivated to come forward and report her alleged sexual assaults after seeing local news coverage of other women with similar experiences from the same suspect.
Santa Barbara Police say they've added more sexual assault charges against 30-year-old Jerry Bonhomme after a fourth woman has come forward to say she too was allegedly raped by Bonhomme.
Police say the alleged fourth victim claims to have been sexually assaulted by Bonhomme under similar circumstances involving three other women, in that she had been drinking heavily with Bonhomme in downtown Santa Barbara bars and then woke up in bed to find Bonhomme allegedly raping her.
"I think the media can play an important role if its reported in a supportive way", says Shannon Chavez, Executive Director of the North County Rape Crisis and Trauma Protection Center which provides confidential counseling and support services to victims of sexual assault and child abuse.
Chavez says the Bonhomme case is an example of how a victim's knowledge that they are not alone can help overcome fear or other issues involved in preventing them from talking to someone about it.
"You are letting the public know about a case that has happened, and that law enforcement is seeing if there are other victims involved, to have them come forward. Sometimes I think when the media sensationalizes cases that can make a survivor feel like I don't want to talk to anybody, or I don't want to come forward because of that, it can cut two ways," says Chavez.
Santa Barbara Police believe there may still be more alleged victims of Bonhomme who are afraid to come forward.
"This is a community issue where the community need to be aware of whether it's the media, organizations like us, getting out there and talking to people, or individuals," says Chavez.
Bonhomme is now facing multiple rape and other felony charges related to four alleged victims.
Bonhomme is in Santa Barbara County Jail with bail on the four rape cases against him set at $400,000 dollars. He's expected back in court on Monday to be arraigned on these latest charges against him.
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:15 AM EDT2013-05-18 15:15:59 GMT
LOMPOC, Calif. - The Lompoc Fire Department held its lottery on Friday morning for local groups to sell "safe and sane" fireworks for its upcoming Fourth of July celebration. Fire officials held a blindMore >>
LOMPOC, Calif. - The Lompoc Fire Department held its lottery on Friday morning for local groups to sell "safe and sane" fireworks for its upcoming Fourth of July celebration.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 1:26 AM EDT2013-05-18 05:26:42 GMT
LOMPOC, Calif. - Lompoc City Fire Department is bringing on six new firefighters thanks to a $ 1.5 million grant that works out to about $500,000 a year. "So the six new firefighters that we are swearing-inMore >>
$1.5 million grant used to hire six new firefighters and promote from within.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 1:24 AM EDT2013-05-18 05:24:06 GMT
LOMPOC, Calif. - Jack Rodenhi has been a CPA and tax accountant in Lompoc for more than 30 years. He says 501(c )4 charitable organizations are required to be involved in social welfare activities onlyMore >>
Century-old non-profit tax exemption at heart of IRS debate and scandal in Washington D.C.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 1:18 AM EDT2013-05-18 05:18:33 GMT
PISMO BEACH, Calif. - Pismo Beach Police confirm that a missing at-risk man from Lompoc has been found after a good samaritan saw his photo in the news. Pismo Beach Police say 24-year-old Blake LewoltMore >>
PISMO BEACH, Calif. - Pismo Beach Police confirm that a missing at-risk man from Lompoc has been found after a good samaritan saw his photo in the news.More >>