PHOENIX — Five victims have come forward to ABC15, asking questions about how Phoenix police have handled their cases regarding alleged sexual assaults involving a 'sobador,' and why their alleged attacker was never questioned nor arrested.
ABC15 first reported on women claiming to have been sexually assaulted in the home office of the 81-year-old ‘sobador’ masseur in August.
The ABC15 Investigators created a timeline of events throughout the police investigation based on public information and the alleged victims’ testimonies. Click through the interactive timeline below.
May 17, 2019
Stephanie Trujillo says she went to a therapeutic massage at the home office of an 81-year old 'sobador,' or unlicensed masseur. She says he sexually assaulted her during the massage.
“He would penetrate his fingers into my vaginal area,” said Trujillo.
She says she reported it to Phoenix police the same day, and had an officer drive her to a clinic where she got a rape kit.
May 19, 2019
Trujillo says she posted about her experience on social media and discovered other victims: Socorro Ramirez, María, and Guadalupe Navarro. Editor's note: María's last name is not used to protect her identity.
May 22, 2019
All three women say they filed their police reports.
May 23, 2019
Trujillo is interviewed by a sex crimes detective. She says she informed the detective about the other three women filing a report, and questioned if the man would be arrested. Instead, she says she was told police were waiting to contact the sobador.
June 5, 2019
Trujillo receives a call from Socorro Ramirez, one of the victims she met. Ramirez informs her the sobador appeared to be skipping town:
"There's a truck on the side of the house and they're loading furniture, I see him loading stuff. They're moving or something!"
Trujillo says she quickly emailed the detective, who replied to her:
“Ms. Trujillo, if it is true that he has fled, it does not change our approach to the investigation. Coordination is being conducted to interview the other victims and include those statements into the investigation. Once the other victim statements are obtained, if he has fled, the case will still be submitted to the county attorney for prosecution.”
June 12, 2019
María, another alleged sobador victim, gets her initial interview with the detective assigned to the case.
June 14, 2019
Ramirez is also interviewed by the detective. Both women were interviewed three weeks after their police reports.
The ABC15 Investigators reach out to Phoenix police asking for an interview to learn more about the investigation processes between Trujillo’s May 23 interview and the sobador’s alleged moving event on June 5. ABC15's request is denied.
For Tasha Menaker, CEO for the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, this case raises a lot of questions. She says she often hears about sexual assault cases where women of color or Spanish-speakers don't feel like they are taken seriously by police. “It's systemic discrimination and we need to do something about that."
July 23, 2019
Trujillo says she received no updates, so she emails the detective.
Phoenix police responded:
“We are in the process of conducting all the interviews. One of the other parties involved in the investigation was unable to participate in her scheduled interview due to her work schedule and it has to be rescheduled. Unfortunately, due to language barriers, I have to coordinate with Spanish speaking detectives and last-minute cancellations create additional hurdles in completing all the interviews.
Coordinating with other detective schedules and having them take time away from their own cases is difficult for everyone involved and unfortunately it does prolong an investigation. Rest assured we are actively trying to complete all the necessary interviews prior to making contact with him, to allow for a complete investigation.”
Guadalupe, a fourth alleged victim, admitted she missed her appointment due to her work schedule, but tried for nearly a month to reschedule. She says no one returned her calls.
July 29, 2019
She says it wasn't until July 29, when she showed up unannounced and demanded a police interview, that her statement is taken.
July 31, 2019
Guadalupe Navarro is interviewed by a detective -- two months after she filed her initial report.
August 15, 2019
Trujillo receives an email from police, 10 weeks after she reported that he had moving trucks at his house. The email said:
"Our fugitive apprehension unit is currently working to locate and pick up Mr. ___."
August 28, 2019
The ABC15 Investigators find the alleged suspect’s relatives. They inform us the sobador wasn't in Arizona and that he left the country. Through public records, we confirm his home was sold in July.
August 29, 2019
August 30, 2019
Phoenix police submit the case to the county attorney for prosecution.
August 31, 2019
A fifth victim comes forward to ABC15. Angie Mozz tells us she also filed a police report in May naming the same suspect, and still hadn't been interviewed by police.
September 10, 2019
Angie is interviewed by a detective, almost four months after she filed a report.
Menaker says she feels concerned about waiting four months to interview a victim.
“How are we being sure that those reports are getting connected,” she questions. “This person could potentially perpetrate against other people.”
Menaker tells ABC15, “There's more that we need to learn because clearly this case wasn't pursued as it should have been.”
The Maricopa County Attorney's office is reviewing the sobador case, which could take several weeks.