Tourist sexually assaulted at Fisherman's Wharf

January 24, 2012 6:09:15 PM PST
Police rescued a young female tourist after catching her attacker in the act of a brutal sexual assault at Fisherman's Wharf.

Even the mayor weighed in Tuesday on the rape of the foreign girl. Even though the suspect in behind bars, shop owners in the area say that as the sun goes down, their fears if something else happening go up.

The victim was a 15-year-old girl visiting from outside of the country. The suspect, 18-year-old Christopher Dutel of Southern California, was initially taken to a hospital then arrested.

"The officers located the juvenile along with the suspect. The details of which are still under investigation at this juncture," explained Ofc. Daryl Fong. "The suspect was placed into custody."

Police say the girl had been with her group and apparently met Dutel at a 7-11 store when she got separated from her group around 2:30 a.m. Her friends called police. That crucial call helped officers move fast and make the arrest.

"It's a horrible situation, with any youth involved with being a victim here, and that's something I'm going to ask the chief to make sure that we focus on very heavily," Mayor Lee said.

This all happened just steps away from the very popular tourist shops and hotels at Fisherman's Wharf. Shop owners admit people often ask about safety. "They ask, 'Is it safe to walk here at Fisherman's Wharf at night?' And, of course I tell them yes, it's very safe but you never know at night. You always have to be guarded," Yarin Molad said.

At night, shop workers often close down and leave together for safety. The solution, some say, could be to have police patrol Fisherman's Wharf at night, as much as they do during the day.

Dutel faces seven charges. One of them is false imprisonment. Six others are sexual assault charges including raping his victim while effectively unconscious on some substance. Police say work on the case will continue.