The gang rape of a UC Santa Barbara student was the second near campus in two months, and university police ramped up patrols in the area in response, authorities said Monday.
The 19-year-old woman was beaten and raped by three men sometime between 12:30 and 4 a.m. Sunday in Isla Vista, a densely populated unincorporated community next to campus.
The woman went home and reported the rape to her roommate and authorities. Sheriff's deputies searched the area but did not made any arrests. University police who patrol Isla Vista will be more visible in coming days, officials said.
A witness reported seeing the woman walking north alone between midnight and 12:30 a.m. on a stretch of Embarcadero del Mar near Segovia Road between the town's business and residential districts. The woman was not sure where the men attacked her and could provide only a vague description, officials said.
"We're happy that we have at least a lead in this case and that we know she was seen in an area at a certain time," said Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kelly Hoover. "Maybe other people will recall hearing or seeing something that will give us more leads. It appears to be a crime of opportunity, but we just don't know yet."
Even in a college town that frequently responds to reports of sexual assaults, authorities say the attack stands out.
"We do have sexual assaults that happen, but something like this ... is horrendous," said UCSB Police Sgt. Robert Romero.
Hoover estimated that more than 60% of Isla Vista's residents attend UCSB, but the area swells with out-of-towners on weekends for parties.
"Unfortunately, sexual assaults are not uncommon in the Isla Vista area; however, this case is extreme," she said. "To have a victim assaulted by several suspects is terrible."
Another woman reported being sexually assaulted earlier that night by an unidentified man. Authorities were not sure if the attacks were related, Hoover said.
Sunday's was the second gang rape of a UCSB student in the area in two months. In the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 18, an 18-year-old student was raped by two men and a male juvenile next to the campus. Deputies arrested three people in connection with that incident.
Information can be reported anonymously at (805) 681-4171.