SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A Santa Ana man was charged Monday with sexually assaulting a woman on a bus bench.
Erick Alvarez Hernandez, 27, was charged with one count each of kidnapping to commit a sex offense, forcible oral copulation, attempted forcible rape and assault with force likely to produce significant bodily injury, all felonies. He also faces sentencing enhancement allegations for inflicting significant bodily injury and kidnapping.
Hernandez could face up to 41 years to life in prison if convicted.
Hernandez made his first appearance in court Monday, but his arraignment was rescheduled for Feb. 8 in the Santa Ana jail courtroom.
The 52-year-old victim was waiting on a bus bench at MacArthur Boulevard and Bristol Street about 8:30 p.m. Jan. 5, when the defendant grabbed her from behind by the neck and pulled her into a secluded area, according to Deputy District Attorney Kristin Bracic.
Hernandez is also accused of punching her before forcing her to perform a sex act on him, Bracic said. Hernandez fled as a bus approached, Bracic said.
The suspect’s number 82 Dallas Cowboys jersey helped police track him down.
Authorities said the Cowboys game finished minutes before the sexual assault, so they scoured local bars and found Buffalo Wild Wings.
The bar managers told police Hernandez had been there and had been drinking so heavily that they asked him to leave. But not before bar patrons took a photo because he was acting so unruly.
Whey they saw the news story on the sex assault suspect wearing the same jersey, they called police.
“People care. People saw this. This is a violent random act of violence. That offends people. People come forward. People help us. Without the help of the media and the community eventually we would have got this guy, but we got this guy in less than 48 hours,” said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, Santa Ana Police Department.
Hernandez was caught on security camera halfway between the bar and the bus stop minutes before the attack.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)