Woman's kindness ends in sexual assault, robbery

Man strikes woman outside her parked car in downtown Palo Alto

A woman was sexually assaulted and robbed by a man who asked her for spare change as she got in her car in downtown Palo Alto early Monday morning, police said.

The woman, who is in her 30s, had been walking on the south side of Everett Avenue toward Alma Street around 4:10 a.m. to her parked car. She was approached by a man who asked her for spare change, police said in a press release.

She said she did and reached into her car to look for the money when he first struck her back, then the back of her head with an unknown object, police said. He then sexually assaulted the woman, who started to scream and fought back. The man was able to reach into her jacket pocket and take her wallet before he fled on foot on east on Everett and turned north on Emerson Street.

The woman drove to the police station to report the sexual assault and robbery about 10 minutes later, according to the news release. Officers searched the area but were unable to find the man.

She was later treated by Palo Alto fire paramedics for pain to the back of her head, according to police.

The woman described the attacker as a white man in his late 20s to mid-30s and about 5 feet 11 inches tall with a skinny build, brown or dirty blonde long straight hair and an unkempt beard, police said. He was wearing a beanie with a pompom on top.

Monday's sexual assault is not related to two others on Dec. 29 along El Camino Real and on Dec. 20 in the Southgate neighborhood. Detectives made arrests in those respective cases less than a week after they occurred.

The police department has noted that three sexual assaults within three weeks are "very unusual." Authorities recommend people stay aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.

Anyone with information about Monday's incident is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at or


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


15 people like this
Posted by Ergh
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 7, 2019 at 7:55 pm

When will the sexual violence against women stop? UGH!!

35 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 7, 2019 at 8:03 pm

Good for the victim for fighting the perp off and getting a description to the police. I hope that anyone who knows someone like that can call the police with that information.

22 people like this
Posted by Be Careful Out There
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2019 at 8:33 pm

Is this possibly a homeless-related crime?

A 'spare-change' request + assault is peculiar to say the least.

6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2019 at 8:49 am

I recall there was a series of sex crimes around the California Ave area a couple of years ago where the suspect or suspects were also described as young skinny white males (according to reports in this newspaper). Does anyone know if there were ever any arrests or convictions for those crimes?

66 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2019 at 10:38 am

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

Liberal progressive policies are turning Palo Alto from a utopian bubble into your typical run-of-the-mill dilapidated democratic managed city.

[Portion removed.]

63 people like this
Posted by Common sense?
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 8, 2019 at 10:53 am

Walking around on your own, male or female, at 4am is not a good idea, and if need to be out at the hour, be aware and don't talk to strangers, especially sketchy looking people asking for money. Commonsense should prevail. And before you go off on me, I am not suggesting she deserved to have this happen.

46 people like this
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 8, 2019 at 11:01 am

Well soon some will be advocating that the woman assaulted should be been packing a concealed firearm. Even after the Safeway vigilante shooting where a gun toting buffoon escalated a property crime ooh into an all around threat to life and limb. Doubling down on the gun insanity rife in our society is no solution, but will only escalate the death rate. My niece purchased a gun for self defense. Then she split up with her boyfriend, who broke into her house, flooded it with water and stole her gun. The day after she got a restraining order. The day after he shot her dead in her garage making her two young boys orphans. This is the reality of widespread gun ownership, not some Charles Bronson macho fantasy.

25 people like this
Posted by Lori Hobson
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 8, 2019 at 11:35 am

Lori Hobson is a registered user.

This happened in proximity to my office. I walked early to work that morning like many, walking past the same location as the woman who was attacked. I have worked in my office for a decade without having been assaulted, and similarly for another decade prior to other jobs in Downtown. It is a sorry day to see people's comments blame the woman for her rape. At least the Palo Alto cops took it seriously and didn't write it off to her lack of common sense. Thank you Palo Alto PD.

33 people like this
Posted by Barron Parker Too
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Barron Parker Too is a registered user.

CCTV throughout downtown and parking lots will reduce these assaults and robberies, because (1) it increases the probability that the perps will be caught and (2) the ones that are caught will be locked up and unable to repeat their crimes.

This is actually the least expensive method to fight both violent and property crime. England has them everywhere. What are we waiting for? The endorsement of the ACLU?

19 people like this
Posted by SuburbanPerson
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 9, 2019 at 12:17 pm

SuburbanPerson is a registered user.

Why is all of the burden when it comes to sexual assault and rape being placed on victims, who are nearly all women and girls? The only advice from authorities here was, "...recommend people stay aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement." How about they also balance their approach with something like "Authorities also recommend that citizens, especially men and boys, reinforce with each other why male aggression and sexual violence against women and girls are inappropriate and illegal"? It's time for men and boys to step up and solve this problem which is still all too common and belongs nearly entirely to them.

1 person likes this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2019 at 10:00 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Verve Coffee to start brewing in Palo Alto this Friday
By Elena Kadvany | 8 comments | 2,130 views

Premarital and Couples: Musings on Life
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,419 views

Why we are Warming
By Sherry Listgarten | 23 comments | 1,193 views

Cap On? Cap Off? The Cities Respond
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 1,067 views

The summer bucket list
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 822 views