A 22-year-old man was charged with sexual assault against an 18-year-old Chapman University student on campus on Sept. 30. The felony count included assault with intent to commit a sexual offense and sexual penetration with a foreign object.
Dalante Jerome Bell of Anaheim reportedly assaulted the student just outside of her dormitory at around 12:40 a.m. on Sept. 24. The victim was allegedly seated in a courtyard of the university’s Henley Hall, video chatting with her boyfriend, when Bell approached her wearing an all-black outfit and a skeleton mask.
“He punches me in the face, I hit the trash can behind me, like a concrete trash can, he’s just like beating me up,” the victim, who prefers to remain anonymous, said to CBS Los Angeles. “I don’t know if I hit him off, or like pushed him off, or I don’t know if he heard people coming. Sometime he got off and I chased him back up the stairs, cursing him out.”
The victim’s 12 years of karate experience and black belt helped her to fight back against the attacker.
Chapman University students Michael Zapesotsky and Joe Hoodenpyle heard the victim’s screams and hurried to the scene to investigate.
“I push the screen out the window and we both jump out the window and run towards where the noise is coming from, and there’s this girl there and she’s just freaking out,” Hoodenpyle said to FOX 11.
In the days following the assault, police released a photo of the man they identified as the suspect walking down South Glassell Street in Orange moments after the attack. A member of Bell’s family identified him and brought him back to Chapman University, where school administrators notified authorities.
Bell identified himself as the attacker and was taken to the police station, where he was then interviewed by police. The Orange Police Department subsequently arrested Bell on suspicion of assault with the intent to commit rape on Sept. 28.
Since Bell is not a student nor affiliated with the university, the attack has been classified as an isolated incident.
“College students should be focused on learning, not worrying about being sexually assaulted by someone lurking in the shadows outside of their dorm,” Orange County DA Todd Spitzer said in a press release. “The Orange County District Attorney’s Office will do everything it can to ensure this sexual predator is held accountable.”
Bell is presently being held at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange with a bail of $500,000. If convicted, he will serve a maximum of eight years in state prison.
“We hope the students and staff of Chapman University and residents of Orange can regain a sense of safety knowing this suspect has been arrested,” Orange Police Chief Dan Adams said. “And we are confident he will be held to answer on the charges.”
Veronica Garza is a City News Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. She can be reached at email@example.com.