Woodland Hills man found guilty of sexually assaulting hikers, sleeping women in Ventura County

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

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VENTURA, Calif. – A Woodland Hills man has been convicted of sexually assaulting five women in Ventura County, who were either sleeping in their homes or hiking on local trails.

Edgar Rodriguez Ruelas was found guilty of five separate counts related to the assaults, including one attack against a 16-year-old girl. The jury also found that Ruelas represents a serious danger to society. 

“Ruelas represents one of the more dangerous sexual offenders apprehended in Ventura County in recent history,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Brent Nibecker said in a press release. “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.”

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The five attacks took place between June 2017 and March 2020 in homes and on hiking trails in Thousand Oaks and Oak Park. The first attack happened in July 2017. Ruelas entered an apartment through an unlocked door, but the woman woke up when she heard her bedroom door open. She fought back and was able to call out to her roommate for help.

Less than a month later, Ruelas attacked a woman hiking early in the morning in Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks. Ruelas followed the woman through the park, before jumping out from behind a bush in all black, including a face mask. He took the woman to the ground, but when she shouted that she’d called police, Ruelas ran.

In October 2017, Ruelas assaulted another woman after getting into her apartment through an open door. She and her boyfriend were sleeping. Ruelas was able to hold her down and cover her mouth, but during the struggle, his hand slipped off her mouth, and she was able to call out to her boyfriend. He chased Ruelas down, but Ruelas got away.

Then, in April 2019, Ruelas assaulted another woman on an Oak Park hiking trail, again surprising her while wearing all black. After a struggle though, Ruelas ran off.

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The final attack was what led to Ruelas’ capture. It happened in March 2020, again at an Oak Park hiking trail. Ruelas tried to attack a 16-year-old girl, again dressed in all black and a ski mask. She was able to fight him off by hitting him with the ukulele she was carrying. She was able to get away and find a neighbor, who called 911. 

When deputies got there, they found surveillance video from the area, which showed the girl heading down the trail. Seconds later, Ruelas’ car is seen parking, and he’s seen walking down that same trail. About half an hour later, he’s seen running back to his car before driving away.

As it turned out, a patrol car with a license plate reader had recently gone by the park, and logged the vehicle’s license plate number. Using that info, deputies were able to link the car to Ruelas.

Once detectives connected Ruelas to the earlier crimes, they were able to link his DNA to four of the five attacks.

Ruelas will be sentenced on June 5. He faces a total of 53 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.

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