A prosecutor revealed graphic details of an alleged rape on New Year’s Eve, accusing the suspect of raping a woman inside his truck while threatening her with a knife.
Deputy District Attorney Marisa DiTillio called suspect Jacob Skorniak, 49, a flight risk and a risk to the public during his Monday arraignment. He pleaded not guilty to charges of forcible rape and kidnap for rape, with allegations that he used a knife during the rape and moved the victim to a place of increased harm.
According to DiTillio, the 21-year-old victim, who is from another country, told officials she had spent New Year’s Eve with friends and was returning to the Pacific Beach home where she was staying when she encountered Skorniak.
She got out of her taxi, and the next thing she remembers is riding in Skorniak’s truck as he held her at knife point. DiTillio said the suspect pulled down a dark street, parked and used the knife to tear off some of the victim’s clothes.
He then forcibly raped her as she begged him not to hurt her, according to the prosecutor.
"During the course of the rape, her cellphone dialed a family member who was able to hear a portion of the assault on the live phone line,” said DiTillio. That family member called police while Skorniak drove to a gas station, where he was seen on surveillance video paying for gas inside.
DiTillio said the victim was too scared to run, but she motioned to someone at the gas station, indicating that she was in danger.
The bystander wrote down the truck’s license plate number, which was registered to Skorniak’s father. The prosecution confirmed the truck was in Skorniak’s possession at the time, according to DiTillio.
The suspect then drove the victim back to the area of her home, but soon saw police surrounding the house, investigating the relative’s call. Skorniak allegedly continued to drive away with the victim still in the truck.
The victim was finally able to convince the suspect to release her, and he dropped her off several blocks from her home. With little clothing on, the victim ran to police.
After getting the victim's description of the suspect and his truck, investigators identified the rape suspect as Skorniak. A statewide manhunt ensued, and Skorniak was arrested Jan. 22 in Santa Barbara, with the same truck in his possession.
When asked if officials have the right suspect, DiTillio said "it appears to us at this point that it's a fairly egregious case, so we think that the evidence is fairly strong."
According to police, Skorniak, a Colorado resident, has served two decades in prison for robbing a bank in Colorado and was on federal parole at the time of the alleged rape. DiTillio said his criminal history dates back to the 1980s, including burglary with an escape and a robbery in 1995.
Skorniak faces 65 years to life if convicted.