By JULIE JOHNSON AND BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A day after his arrest on suspicion of burglary and prowling, Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo has been admitted into a treatment facility for help
with what Carrillo and his friends have said is a recurrent drinking problem.
The quick retreat into seclusion — confirmed Sunday by one of his closest advisers — happened as news of the arrest rippled across the county and state and as investigators continue to piece together what happened early Saturday morning in Carrillo’s west Santa Rosa neighborhood.
Police said they detained him after a woman reported that someone tried to break into her home through a bedroom window.
Although Santa Rosa police arrested him on suspicion of burglary and prowling, they believe his intent was to commit some type of sexual assault, according to Sgt. Terry Anderson.
Carrillo was wearing nothing but his socks and underwear and was carrying a cellphone when officers responded to a 3:40 a.m. 911 call in the area of Stony Point Road at West Third Street, within a block of Carrillo’s rented Brockhurst Drive apartment.
He was booked at Sonoma County Jail at 10:10 a.m. and was released on $40,000 bail within two hours. He has a court hearing scheduled for Thursday.
It is unclear whether Carrillo plans to attend that hearing.
Doug Bosco, a former North Coast congressman, friend and adviser to Carrillo, said the 32-year-old supervisor likely will remain at a Northern California treatment facility for a month. He declined to provide details on Carrillo’s whereabouts or who had accompanied him to the facility.
The supervisor’s brother, Abraham Carrillo, 24, said Sunday he was unaware of exactly where his brother was taken for treatment. In a phone interview, he said their father had said Saturday that “somebody took him.” “He didn’t say where,” Abraham Carrillo said.
Calls, emails and text-messages to Supervisor Carrillo Saturday and Sunday requesting comment have not been returned.
“I realize that my behavior was embarrassing. It involved alcohol and I’m taking immediate steps to seek professional help,” Carrillo said in a two-sentence email he sent Saturday to The Press Democrat and other media outlets.
Police said Sunday they were pulling together a report to hand to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office that outlines evidence that Carrillo tried to get into the woman’s apartment with the intent of committing some kind of sexual assault.
Prosecutors will have to decide whether that evidence warrants charging Carrillo with felony burglary. Police did not reveal additional details about their evidence, while Carrillo’s supporters sought to downplay the allegations, saying his actions, fueled by alcohol, were not predatory.
Police have not released the woman’s name, saying they intend to withhold it because they suspect she’s the victim of an attempted sexual assault.
Before dawn on Saturday, the woman called police and said someone had tried to get into her bedroom through a window. The sound of the window blinds being moved woke her.
She called again moments later as officers were heading to the residence and said that the person had knocked on her front door, identifying himself as a neighbor before running away.
Officers found the bedroom window screen was torn and the window open enough for a person to reach through, Anderson said.
There were witnesses to at least some of the night’s events, Anderson said. But he declined to explain where the witnesses were or what they observed.
In legal terms, burglary is when a person enters a home or structure with the intent of committing a felony crime, often theft. But in this case, Anderson said they suspect Carrillo intended to commit not theft but sexual assault.
“Had he gone and simply knocked on the door, you’re talking about a different scenario,” Anderson said. “But when you attempt to enter the house through a screen, it’s elevated to something more serious, quite a bit more serious.”
The case ultimately could be handled by the state Attorney General’s Office under a standard protocol used when a conflict arises for the county district attorney. In this case, that conflict could include Carrillo’s authority over District Attorney Jill Ravitch’s budget.
Saturday’s arrest was the supervisor’s second in 10 months. On Labor Day weekend last year, Carrillo was arrested outside a San Diego nightclub after a fight that left a man unconscious. Prosecutors later dropped misdemeanor battery and disturbing the peace charges against Carrillo.
Carrillo claimed he had stepped in to protect female friends who were being verbally and physically harassed by a stranger.
The woman’s identity in the latest incident wasn’t released because police suspect she is the “victim of a burglary that contained the elements of attempted sexual assault,” Anderson said.
Police normally do not identify the victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. Though no such assault took place, police said they believe that was Carrillo’s aim and want to preserve the woman’s anonymity.
“We are not naming her, and the reason is that I want to protect her identity and her safety,” Anderson said.
Police also declined to say where precisely the incident took place. Anderson said that detail would reveal where the woman lives.
“He knew that he was not at his residence, he was trying to see her; that’s what our investigation found,” Anderson said.
Carrillo lives in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom single-story apartment with a front door off West Third Street, about 500 feet from the intersection with Stony Point Road. His address in the 14-unit complex is on Brockhurst Drive.
A female resident in the same complex said Sunday that she was alarmed to hear of the arrest. Police interviewed many of the neighbors Saturday morning.
“It’s right here. It’s a little scary,” the woman said. She asked not to be identified.
Greenville Manor, another apartment complex, is across Brockhurst Drive, which otherwise is lined by single-family homes.
Anderson said he didn’t know where Carrillo’s clothes were or where he was prior to arriving at the woman’s home.
Those details aren’t relevant to their investigation, Anderson said. Police found nothing to indicate Carrillo and the woman had been together that night.
The woman told officers she knew Carrillo informally from the neighborhood and had spoken to him two or three times more than a month ago.
Carrillo and the woman also gave statements to police. Anderson said he would not disclose what they said but said that Carrillo’s explanation did not add up.
“Had he been able to explain it away to the extent that we were comfortable that it was just a mistake, then he wouldn’t have gone to jail,” Anderson said Saturday.
Carrillo and his supporters have sought to tie his behavior to the influence of alcohol while suggesting that his actions Saturday were not predatory.
Carrillo attended a pair of events Friday night, starting with a reception for Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, at Kunde Winery. Later, he was at a fundraiser for the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation at Sonoma Academy. Alcohol was served at both functions.
In their report, officers said that Carrillo clearly appeared intoxicated during their early morning questioning but not drunk on a level that would make it unlawful. They did not test his drunkenness in the field or measure his blood-alcohol content, Anderson said.
Without offering details, Bosco, the former congressman and Carrillo supporter, on Sunday sought to play down the seriousness of Saturday’s incident, describing it as “foolish.”
“It’s not good, but not as bad as it sounds,” he said. “No one can put a good spin on it. On the other hand, it’s important to wait for the facts before making any conclusion.”
He added that he thought it was “unfair” that police have voiced speculation about an intent of sexual assault on Carrillo’s behalf without arresting him on suspicion of a sexual offense.
“If they have sufficient evidence to charge him with crimes of sexual predation, then they should have charged him with it,” Bosco said.
Bosco, a Santa Rosa attorney, is general counsel and an investor with Sonoma Media Investments, owners of The Press Democrat.
Retired prosecutor Greg Jacobs of Sebastopol, who was assistant district attorney under Ravitch’s predecessor, Stephan Passalacqua, said the burglary charge could be tough to prove.
The charge hinges on what evidence police uncovered that could help prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Carrillo tried to get into the woman’s home with the intent to commit a felony, in this case a sexual crime, Jacobs said.
“To convict, the evidence has to support the theory (of the intended crime) and no other rational interpretation,” Jacobs said.
Police have not publicly stated what sexual crime they suspect Carrillo intended to commit in the course of the alleged burglary.
Jacobs, who lives in Carrillo’s district, has no connection to the case and knows only what’s been reported by media outlets. He spoke only generally from his experience about the burden of proof prosecutors face.
“You could say it looks like he was up to no good. It could also be he was inebriated and floundering around,” Jacobs said.
The investigation that detectives hand over will go first to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney Ravitch, however, said she has already contacted the state Attorney General’s Office to determine if the case would be more appropriately handled by state prosecutors.
In addition to the possible business conflict, Ravitch and Carrillo are political allies. She endorsed him for re-election last year, and he has endorsed her 2014 re-election bid, though his endorsement was removed from her campaign website Saturday.
Ravitch said she expected to hear back today from the Attorney General’s Office.
“Supervisor Carrillo is entitled to due process, and I intend to carry out my responsibility to seek justice,” she said in an email Sunday.