Santa Rosa, CA – July 28, 2021 – Defendant Rusiate Waqa, 25 years old of Santa Rosa, was found guilty yesterday by a Sonoma County jury for the forcible rape and aggravated kidnapping of Jane Doe committed on August 16, 2019 in Santa Rosa’s Howarth Park. Following the two-week trial, the jury deliberated approximately 15 minutes before returning their verdict.
The forcible rape charge and kidnapping enhancement resulted from an incident in 2019 where defendant surprised Jane Doe of Santa Rosa as she used the woman’s restroom at Howarth Park. At around 8 a.m. on August 16, the defendant entered the restroom, grabbed Jane Doe by the arm, and threatened to kill her. The victim unsuccessfully attempted to fight-off the defendant and cried out for help. However, the defendant dragged her into the farthest stall and sexually assaulted her before fleeing into the neighborhood. The defendant was apprehended by law enforcement after another female in the area reported suspicious behavior by the defendant at the park and provided his license plate number. The victim was thereafter able to positively identify her assailant and DNA was then used to link the defendant to the crime.
The Defendant faces a mandatory prison term of 25 years-to-life and will be sentenced by the Honorable Shelly Averill on September 9, 2021.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Laura Passaglia, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Robyn Fuentes and Victim Witness Advocate Alex Perry. Detective James Page of the Santa Rosa Police Department headed the investigation.