Handyman breaks into lady’s house, sexually assaults her

STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) – Detectives are searching for additional victims of a handyman who allegedly broke into the home of a Stanislaus County woman on Friday morning and sexually assaulted her.

Around 7:30 a.m., a woman reported being woken up by someone at her home, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office said.

“This was absolutely a violation of the sanctity of their home,” Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Spokesman Sgt. Luke Schwartz told FOX40. “Something like this can happen at any time of the day or night.”

The woman told deputies a masked man armed with a pistol walked into her bedroom, the sheriff’s office reported. He then tied her up, choked her, and sexually assaulted her.

Before leaving, the masked man stole the woman’s ATM card and threatened her, telling her not to call the police once he left.

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“In the course of this follow-up investigation, this afternoon we were able to identify the individual responsible and arrest and hold that individual,” Schwartz said.

The sheriff’s office said detectives with the Crimes Against Persons Division determined the suspect was 40-year-old Jose Luis Ramos Rivera, a handyman who had worked for the woman for several months.

“It happened to be someone she had previously done business with,” Schwartz said.

When hiring Rivera, the woman snapped a photo of his ID, which the sheriff’s office said “helped his arrest on the same day he committed the crimes.”

Rivera was committed to the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center and faces multiple charges including robbery, home invasion, and assault with intent to commit rape.

Stephanie Barraza of the Haven Women’s Center-Stanislaus, an organization that works with sexual assault survivors, told FOX40 it was brave of the woman to come forward in this case.

“It’s brave when someone comes forward and speaks out about such a traumatic incident,” Barraza said. “It takes so much vulnerability to come forward and say, ‘Hey, you know, this happened to me and now, you know, I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.'”

The women’s center provides services for survivors.

“We meet them where they are, what they want to do, if it’s a restraining order, if it’s a safe place, for individual peer counseling,” Barraza said.

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Stanislaus County detectives said they believe Rivera may have more victims. However, they are not releasing Rivera’s mugshot because they said it could jeopardize future investigations.

They have asked anyone who has been or knows a victim to call Detective V. Esquivez at 209-567-4466. You can also submit an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 209-521-4636 or by going to www.stancrimetips.org.

“We urge you to come forward and speak to our detectives so we can ensure he is held accountable,” Schwartz said.

Barraza has a message for any survivors who may be feeling isolated: you are not alone.

“Our job is to believe and to understand,” Barraza explained. “Nobody deserves to go through something like this and you don’t have to heal yourself. There is a community out there that can help.”

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