Tuesday, July 14, 2015 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — A man who police identified as the “Nob Hill Groper” has been cleared of charges after it was determined he was at work during several attacks, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
On July 2, prosecutors dismissed the sexual assault case against 40-year-old Victor Vasquez-Cid, 40. Vasquez-Cid had been in jail since his March 11 arrest, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Sangeeta Sinha.
The Nob Hill area had been plagued by a series of sexual assaults for approximately six months, prompting police to issue a sketch of the suspect. In total, 17 women reported that a man grabbed their breasts, buttocks or genitals. Of the 17 victims, two identified Vasquez-Cid from a photo lineup as the attacker. A third victim narrowed down the lineup of six photographs to three possible suspects, including Vasquez-Cid. Prosecutors charged Vasquez-Cid with five felonies: sexual assault, two counts of assault with intent to commit rape, and two counts of false imprisonment. He also faced two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery. If convicted, he faced more than 13 years in prison and a lifetime as a registered sex offender, Sinha said.
While Vasquez-Cid awaited trial, Public Defender Investigator Hector Flores was able to obtain Vasquez-Cid’s electronic work records. The dishwasher was required to clock in and out of his restaurant shifts using a fingerprint.
“The records proved Mr. Vasquez was at work more than a mile away during two of the three incidents,” Sinha said. Flores also interviewed the kitchen manager, who confirmed there was no way for Vasquez to slip out unnoticed.
“Mr. Vasquez-Cid had an unimpeachable alibi,” Sinha said. “His case demonstrates the fallibility of eyewitness identification.”
Eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions, playing a role in more than 70 percent of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide, according to the Innocence Project.
Adachi praised the work of Flores and Sinha in clearing Vasquez-Cid’s name.
“Police were aware that Mr. Vasquez-Cid worked as a dishwasher, but they never followed up to see if he was working at the time of the crimes,” Adachi said. “Fortunately, Mr. Vasquez-Cid’s defense team gathered the evidence that police overlooked. After nearly four months in jail, Mr. Vasquez-Cid can get on with his life.”