Suspect arrested in Target groping
Mari Rose Hale’s account of her assault in the parking lot at Glenwood Meadows launched a public discussion about sexual assault and safety in our community. The resulting publicity may also have helped catch her attacker.
Glenwood Springs police early this month released video of the suspect just before the assault occurred. It shows a young man entering Target, following a woman into the lingerie section, talking to her for a while, then meandering around the store before leaving without making a purchase. After the attack, he is shown driving away in a white Subaru Outback.
The footage was referenced and embedded in a Post Independent article on Nov. 7. Over the next week, at least five people called police to identify Ruben Chavez III, aka Plucky, 21, of Rifle.
Chavez was arrested Nov. 13, and is, according to his arrest affidavit, a “validated Norteno gang member” and “a suspect in a California homicide,” though details about that were not available.
He faces a misdemeanor charge for unlawful sexual contact in the Glenwood incident.
For Hale, the arrest brings some closure.
“It feels good that he was caught, ” she said, “but it’s also frightening now that I know a little bit more about him.”
Either way, it hasn’t dampened her resolve to provide the education and outreach necessary to prevent the same thing from happening in the future.
“This is an issue that isn’t talked about,” she said. “We, men included, think if we’re not bleeding, somehow we have to get up and brush it off.”
Hale, who writes a monthly column for the Post Independent’s Body & More section, encouraged people to pay attention to their instincts.
“As I was talking myself out of being afraid of him, that’s when he got me. Pick any woman off the street, and she could tell you a story of having felt the exact same way,” she said. “I think the part of us that knows that we need to eat and need to sleep also knows when there’s danger around.”
Hale is working to organize a “Fighting Chance” seminar on women’s safety and empowerment, providing tools for situational awareness, verbal de-escalation and defense techniques.
“We live in a town of incredibly beautiful, thoughtful and wonderful people. I think help is out there, and I’m going to ask for it,” she said. “We have an amazing community, and I believe that our businesses and organizations will really want to help us help ourselves and have a vested interest in doing so.”
Anyone who wants to be involved can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Between Thursday and Saturday morning, local law enforcement arrested nine people accused of soliciting children for sex as part of a sting operation.