Mountain View Voice

News - April 2, 2010

Elderly woman assaulted in church

by Kelsey Mesher

A 73-year-old Mountain View woman was assaulted and groped by a man while praying in the chapel at St. Athanasius Church last Wednesday, police say.

The incident occurred at around 6:30 p.m. on the evening of March 24, after the woman entered the chapel to pray at St. Athanasius on N. Rengstorff Avenue.

"She went into the church, and she noticed (a man) was already in there praying," said police spokesperson Liz Wylie. The woman went to the front of the chapel, Wylie said, and "the next thing she knows he's sitting next to her and he's trying to kiss her."

The man also groped her chest and grabbed her around the waist, police reported. "She started pushing him off and telling him no," Wylie said. "She told him she was married."

When she started screaming the man released her, Wylie said, and she ran to the rectory where there was a church employee. The employee left to check the chapel herself but the door was locked. When she returned with a key, the door was open and the chapel was empty. There were no other witnesses.

Wylie said the victim had seen the man in church before, but had never spoken to him. She described him as a Hispanic male adult, in his late 40s or early 50s, of short stature, medium build and "looking homeless."

"We know he's a local person who possibly frequents that church," Wylie said, adding that although the victim did not want police to pursue the man, they would investigate regardless.

Wylie said the man could be charged with sexual battery, which is a misdemeanor.

E-mail Kelsey Mesher at kmesher@mv-voice.com ?? ?? ?? ??

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