Man convicted of sexually assaulting hikers, sleeping women in Ventura County 

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A Woodland Hills man was convicted of sexually assaulting hikers and sleeping women in Ventura County.

Edgar Rodriguez Ruelas, 42, was convicted by a jury on May 2 of five felony counts related to assaults in Thousand Oaks and Oak Park.

The attacks took place between June 2017 and March 2020 and involved five female victims, according to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.

The first attack happened on June 15, 2017. Ruelas entered a Thousand Oaks apartment through an unlocked door in the early morning.

The victim, a 25-year-old woman, awoke from the commotion to see Ruelas opening her bedroom door. He tried to force himself onto her bed but the woman fought back. She yelled to her roommate for help and after a brief struggle, the suspect ran away.

The second attack happened on July 14, 2017, as Ruelas spotted a woman who was hiking alone at Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks around 5:45 a.m.

A Google Maps Street View image shows an area in Oak park where a man attempted to kidnap a teenage girl. On the right, the suspect, Edgar Rodriguez Ruelas, is seen in an undated photo provided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.Edgar Rodriguez Ruelas, 42, was convicted on May 2, 2024 for sexually assaulting five women in Ventura County from 2017 to 2020. (Ventura County District Attorney’s Office)Edgar Rodriguez Ruelas, 42, was convicted on May 2, 2024 for sexually assaulting five women in Ventura County from 2017 to 2020. (Ventura County District Attorney’s Office)Edgar Rodriguez Ruelas, 42, seen in a booking photo from the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.

He stalked the woman through the park before jumping out from behind bushes while wearing all-black clothing and a face mask. He knocked the victim to the ground, straddled her and groped her, authorities said.

The woman warned him that she had already called the police and her husband, which eventually caused Ruelas to flee. Surveillance video captured Ruelas’ car speeding away from the trailhead and through a surrounding neighborhood.

The third attack happened early morning on October 25, 2017, when Ruelas entered a Thousand Oaks apartment through an open door as a woman and her boyfriend were sleeping.

The woman woke up to find Ruelas standing over her. He placed one hand over the victim’s mouth while sexually assaulting her with his other hand, court documents said. At one point, the hand covering the victim’s mouth shifted and she yelled out to her boyfriend for help.

That’s when Ruelas left and ran out the front door. The victim’s boyfriend chased Ruelas down the street and struggled with him in a physical confrontation before Ruelas broke free and fled.

The fourth attack happened on April 12, 2019, on a hiking trail in Oak Park at around 5:40 p.m.

Ruelas was hiding behind bushes on the trail while wearing all-black clothes and a ski mask. He spotted a woman and tackled her to the ground, grabbing her clothing as she fought back.

The woman screamed for help as she struggled with Ruelas. She told him other people knew her location and he eventually ran away. The woman then spotted a dogwalker who helped her call the police.

The fifth attack happened on March 5, 2020, at an Oak Park hiking trail. The victim was a 16-year-old girl. Ruelas, once again hiding behind bushes, jumped out and pushed the girl to the ground before covering her mouth with his hand.

The girl screamed for help and eventually struck Ruelas with a ukulele she was holding. She broke free and ran down the trail until she found someone who helped her call 911.

Ventura County deputies responded to the scene and discovered surveillance video from a nearby neighborhood. The video showed the girl entering the trails and 30 seconds later, Ruelas was seen parking his car nearby and heading to the same trail.

Around 23 minutes later, the suspect was seen running back to his car and driving away. Detectives later identified the license plate which eventually led to Ruelas’ arrest.

Forensic scientists conducted DNA testing on several items from the various attacks which were positively linked to Ruelas’ DNA.

Ruelas was found guilty of:

Assault with intent to commit a forcible sex crime on a person under 18 Two counts of assault with intent to commit a forcible sex crime on adults Assault with intent to commit a forcible sex crime during a residential burglary Forcible sexual penetration by a foreign object

Special allegations found true include:

Committing an offense during a residential burglary with intent to commit a forcible sex crime Victim was vulnerable The manner in which the crime was carried out indicates planning, sophistication, or professionalism Ruelas has engaged in violent conduct and “represents a serious danger to society”

“Ruelas represents one of the more dangerous sexual offenders apprehended in Ventura County in recent history,” said Brent Nibecker, a Senior Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted the case. “I am indebted to the brave victims in this case who not only resisted Ruelas when he attacked but had the courage to testify in court and ensure he can never target women again.”

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 5 where he faces up to 32 years to life, plus an additional 21 years in prison.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.