Trail Battery Reported

Woman says man grabbed her breast on Dale Ball trails

Santa Fe Police have made no arrests in the case of alleged sexual battery on the Dale Ball trails last week.

A woman reported May 14 around 4:45 pm that a man grabbed her breast as he came the opposite direction down one of the trails in the Sierra del Norte/Hyde Park area.

When the woman yelled at him, he apologized and ran away, she told police. She chased after the man and recorded details about his car, an orange Dodge Durango, and license plate on cellphone video as he drove away. She called the police but declined to give her sweater as evidence.

The police report indicates officers issued a BOLO [be on the lookout] on the car to its officers and the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department, and used the license plate to identify two different addresses linked to the registered owner of the vehicle, but did not locate the suspect vehicle or interview anyone else in the case.

"The last we have on it is the incident was sent back to Patrol for follow up," Greg Gurule, Santa Fe Police Department spokesman, wrote to SFR in an email.

It's not clear whether officers have questioned the person to whom the vehicle is registered and whether that person matches the description that the woman gave. The police report says the man is 5'10" to 6 feet tall, has "a large nose" and olive skin. He was wearing a black hoodie and orange and white basketball shorts.

Stories about the incident circled in Santa Fe social media channels for days.

Jess Clark, education and prevention department manager at Solace Crisis Treatment Center, tells SFR sometimes those types of social media posts do more harm than good and can cloud the larger conversation around domestic and sexual violence that happens every day in between partners and people who know each other.

“I feel conflicted when I see those posts go around,” Clark says. “I get that folks want to feel safe in the world and feel like we can do something but when that’s presented without context in how violence is happening every single day, it ends up creating a lot of unnecessary fear while actually perpetuating [violence]… That same level of outcry doesn’t happen when it’s an assault done by someone you know.” 

Alena Schaim, executive director at Resolve, an organization that teaches self-defense and works to change societal views to stop sexual assaults, says that the way a story is told is important in the community as well. Framing it around the survivor, not the perpetrator, could change the way an area looks at an assault.

Oftentimes when that happens it’s reported as an assault and framed that way and what it actually is is a moment of self defense, whether that person was trained to or not,” Schaim says. “These stories of women defending themselves could be an amazing message that gets shared that, ‘Yes, women have every right to walk this earth and not be afraid for their safety.’ Instead, the message goes out, ‘Oh, this incident happened and no one ever is going hiking alone again.'” 

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