Chef Arrested in Roadside Sex Attacks Case

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department arrested a Marin County chef they believe is responsible for sexual assaults and attempted assaults of women driving alone on rural roads.

Thomas Darin Boccaleoni, 44, was arrested at 11:15 p.m. Tuesday at his Cotati home on suspicion of false imprisonment, assault with intent to commit rape and terrorist threats, Sgt. Dave Thompson said in a prepared statement.

Boccaleoni is being held under no bail in the Sonoma County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon in Sonoma County Superior Court.

There were 13 incidents where a male driver pulled over or attempted to pull over women driving alone since November 2008 but Boccaleoni was arrested on suspicion of being the suspect in two incidents on Calistoga Road near Santa Rosa and most recently on Sexton Road near Sebastopol, Lt. Chris Spallino said.

On two occasions, Boccaleoni sexually assaulted the victims, Thompson said.

The sheriff's department is investigating whether Boccaleoni is the suspect in the other cases, Spallino said.

"Our goal was to get him off the streets," Spallino said Wednesday.

Leads developed from law enforcement sources and tips from citizens led detectives to investigate Boccaleoni and two of the women identified him in a photo line-up as the suspect who accosted them after they stopped along side the road, Thompson said.

Boccaleoni owns vehicles similar to the ones used in the roadside  incidents and search warrants were conducted at his home late Tuesday night, Thompson said.

Boccaleoni was prosecuted in San Francisco for groping four women in the Marin district in 2005 after he said he was lost and asked them for directions, according to news accounts. The women wrote down his vehicle's  license number and the women identified him in a photo line-up.

Boccaleoni also is being held in the Sonoma County Jail for a probation hold out of San Francisco, Spallino said.

In the Sonoma County incidents, the suspect tried to get women to  pull over by flashing his vehicle's headlights or pulling alongside their vehicle, the sheriff's department said.

He would approach the women with a ruse, stating there had been an accident or there was a mechanical problem with their vehicle. Once he got close, he would try to prevent the women from leaving, the sheriff's department said.

In the most recent incident on April 18, a woman was driving alone at 1:30 a.m. on Sexton Road and noticed a vehicle flashing its high-beam lights at her, the sheriff's department said.

The male driver pulled alongside her and yelled there was something wrong with her vehicle. The woman pulled over to inspect her  vehicle and the driver pulled over and said something was leaking from her car.

When the woman tried to get back into her car, the suspect wedged  himself into the doorway, grabbed her leg and tried to pull her from the car.  He then put his hands around her neck and threatened to hurt her if she  resisted. The woman was able to fend off the attack and drove away, the sheriff's department said.

A female driver was sexually battered in her car by a male driver on Bennett Valley Road in Rincon Valley on Nov. 18. The suspect said there had been a motorcycle accident and told her to call 911.

When the woman called police on her cell phone, the suspect told her to hang up or he would harm her, the sheriff's department said. The suspect fled after the battery.

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