Auto-body worker accused of fourth sexual assault

An alleged serial rapist who prosecutors believe is responsible for a string of attacks in northern San Mateo County is now facing charges involving a fourth victim, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Prosecutors now believe Raul Gutierrez Contreras, 30, an auto-body worker from South San Francisco, is responsible for the Sept. 17, 2006, attack on a woman in a bathroom stall in South City’s Orange Park.

Contreras, who has pleaded not guilty, briefly appeared in court Tuesday before his attorney Eric Hove rescheduled a preliminary hearing in the case for July.

Last month, Contreras pleaded not guilty to 26 felony counts in connection with two rapes and one attempted rape during 2006 and 2007. He was arrested in February of last year for drunken driving and officers learned he had a warrant out for his arrest involving one of the attacks, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Wagstaffe said the victim in the Orange Park attack recently identified Contreras through a photo lineup. Prosecutors say that the victim, a jogger in her mid-30s, was using the bathroom when Contreras crawled underneath the stall and attempted to rape her. She was able to fight him off and escape, Wagstaffe said.

Prosecutors believe Contreras’ alleged crime spree began Feb. 10, 2006, when he allegedly attacked a 42-year-old woman at a Colma BART station. On Nov. 1, 2006, he allegedly assaulted a 24-year-old woman in her South Linden Avenue business in South San Francisco. On Feb. 8, 2007, Contreras allegedly struck again, attacking a 34-year-old woman while she jogged on Maple Street.

Contreras faces life in prison due to the multiple victims, Wagstaffe said. His charges include rape, attempted rape, burglary, false imprisonment, sexual battery and felony threats.

Police issued a warrant for Contreras after one of his co-workers called authorities after a description was released.

tbarak@examiner.com

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