Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz Police: Man had sex with women while they were blacked out

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Santa Cruz police are investigating a series of sexual assaults in which they believe a suspect targeted women who were heavily intoxicated.

Deputy Chief Steve Clark says the suspect, who police identified as 36-year-old James Sharp, has met several women at local bars and then take advantage of their intoxication, having sex with the woman while they were either blacked out or otherwise too intoxicated to give consent.

Sharp, 36, initially was arrested on May 9 for a case reported to police on May 6.

Clark said police didn't release arrest information previously because the investigation was continuing.

Evidence gathered from Sharp's California Street home linked him to other victims, Clark said.

"Mr. Sharp collected 'trophies' in remembrance of his victims that included photos or personal items," Clark said.

While analyzing the evidence seized, detectives recognized one of the women in the photos as having reported a sexual assault in April with extremely limited suspect information. The woman was assault after having blacked out in Sharp's company, Clark said.

Sharp posted bail and was out of custody on the first case when police officers arrested him on May 24 for the other case.

Sharp's bail was increased to $5 million and he was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail.

Clark said detectives believe there are more victims.

"We believe there are more victims who have not come forward with reports. We are encouraging any victims to come forward and report any assaults involving Mr. Sharp," Clark said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Sharp's method of operation is a fact pattern too often reported to SCPD."

He said police often have cases of females who report being victimized after drinking to the point where they either pass out/black out and are unable to care for themselves. They are extremely vulnerable and often cannot recall details of the assault, making it difficult for police to pursue.

It is against the law for a person to have sex with someone who is too intoxicated to give constructive consent and/or is unconscious of the act.

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