More charges filed against serial rape suspect 

New charges were filed Friday linking a suspected serial rapist to two more incidents that occurred in South San Francisco.

Raul Gutierrez Contreras, 28, already charged in connection with an attempted rape Feb. 8, has now been linked by prosecutors to two other attacks that occurred Feb. 10, 2006, and Nov. 1.

The new charges — a total of 20 new counts against him — stem from DNA test results, although Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe did not specify which cases involved DNA evidence.

"DNA tests were done and are part of our evidence in a couple of these cases," Wagstaffe said. Prosecutors are still investigating whether Contreras is linked to other incidents occurring in South San Francisco in the past year. "We are looking at a couple more cases."

Described by police as a transient and a possible illegal immigrant, Contreras was arrested Feb. 12 after a tipster informed police that he was working at a South San Francisco auto body shop with a cut above his left eye.

Police believe he received the cut in a Feb. 8 attack on a 34-year-old woman that took place at 6:30 a.m. as she was unlocking a door to a business on the 200 block of South Maple Avenue. He allegedly forced his way in and tried dragging her into a bathroom before she escaped, prosecutors say.

It was the latest in a string of incidents in the area involving women being attacked and, in some cases, raped. The charges filed Friday include counts of oral copulation, digital penetration, sexual battery and rape. Contreras faces life in prison on 26 felony counts on top of misdemeanor drunken driving charges relating to a prior warrant. After the arrest was made, South San Francisco police Sgt. Joni Lee said Contreras "partially admitted" to the Feb. 8 assault but denied involvement in other incidents.

Contreras is scheduled to appear in court March 15 to enter a plea. His attorney, Eric Hove, did not return calls Friday for comment.

Mayor Rich Garbarino lauded the Police Department for its persistence in the case, which frightened many residents in the area. He said the city is exploring ways of improving lighting in certain neighborhoods in response.

"The community overall has a sense of relief," he said. "It has to be scary; in particular for women who are just doing their daily routine. If the alleged suspect is in fact guilty, then he’s in custody and that would make not only South San Francisco streets safer, but other cities along the corridor as well."

Police have not released Contreras’ photo yet because they are still interviewing women and do not want to taint their memories, officials said Friday.

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