A 21-year-old Berkeley man has been arrested for allegedly attempting to sexually assault three young women in a 45-minute span near the University of California at Berkeley campus last Saturday evening, police said today.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office has charged convicted felon Michael Anthony Skinner with assault with the intent to commit rape, attempted robbery, two counts of sexual battery and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury.
Berkeley police said that at about 5:40 p.m. Saturday, they learned of an incident in which an 18-year-old woman was attacked as she walked in the 2200 block of Bancroft Way, near the UC Berkeley Tang Center, the school's health center.
Officer Greg Michalczyk said in a probable cause statement that the suspect, later identified as Skinner, approached the woman from behind, grabbed both of her buttocks with his hands, picked her up and "slammed her to the ground."
Skinner then got on top of the woman and held her down by her arms, pulled off her shorts and "started to go for her under shorts," Michalczyk said. The woman told police that she thought Skinner was trying to rape her, he said.
She tried to get away but Skinner "used more of his physical strength against her" and hit her, Michalczyk said.
The woman then screamed, and nearby pedestrians came to her aid and Skinner fled, he said. Investigators also learned of two other incidents that same evening that appeared to involve Skinner, according to police.
At about 5:15 p.m. Saturday, an 18-year-old woman who was walking near Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way attempted to step around Skinner, who was blocking her way, but he stepped in front of her, reached under her skirt and touched her genitals on the outside of her shorts, according to a probable cause statement by Officer Miguel Salazar.
Skinner then tried to take the woman's purse but she was able to maintain control of it, and he fled west on Bancroft Way, Salazar said. Authorities said that in a third incident at about 6 p.m. Saturday, Skinner grabbed the buttocks of a 21-year-old woman who passed him in the 2200 block of Bancroft Way near the Tang Center.
Police said the woman's companion confronted Skinner but Skinner became aggressive and took a fighting stance.
The woman and her friend then left and subsequently called police, authorities said. Berkeley police said Skinner was detained at the YMCA at 2001 Allston Way at about 7 p.m. that day.
The investigation linked Skinner to all three assaults and he was formally arrested, police said. Skinner, who appeared in Alameda County Superior Court today to be assigned an attorney, is being held at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $300,000 bail.
Prosecutors allege that Skinner was convicted of assault with a firearm in adult court on April 28, 2011, and of unspecified crimes in juvenile court.
Those prior convictions could increase his sentence if he is found guilty of the new charges against him.