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Friday, November 5, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Rape suspect arrested after TV appearance

Los Angeles Times

Santa Barbara, Calif., police arrested a rape suspect after his alleged victim spotted him on the television show "Blind Date," authorities said yesterday.

A 31-year-old Santa Barbara man was arrested on suspicion of raping and kidnapping a 35-year-old woman 14 months ago in Ventura County, police said. He is being held at the Ventura County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.

The woman saw her alleged assailant on the dating show last week, recorded it on her VCR and turned the tape over to Ventura police. Authorities contacted Santa Barbara police, who made the arrest.

"The chances against seeing someone like that on TV are pretty astronomical," said Ventura police Detective Russ Robinson, chief investigator in the case. He described the woman as stunned and "exhilarated" by the unexpected lead in the case.

After obtaining the "Blind Date" tape, police tracked the suspect Sunday to an address in Santa Barbara. A woman there gave officers his cellphone number.

Posing as a potential employer, a detective called the suspect and asked to meet with him about a security-guard job. The suspect was arrested without incident when he drove to the arranged meeting place.

The suspect, who told police that he is a security guard and handyman, also is awaiting trial on charges of breaking into the Santa Barbara home of a 22-year-old college student after allegedly following her home in November 2003.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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