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Commercial Pilot Arrested In String Of Sexual Assaults Near Aliso Viejo Park

ALISO VIEJO (CBSLA) – A man has been arrested in a series of violent attacks on women which have occurred on trails near an Aliso Viejo park dating back to January of 2020.

The suspect was identified by the Orange County Sheriff's Office in a news conference early Monday afternoon as 51-year-old Robert Daniel Yucas of Riverside.

Investigators had checked DNA recovered from the victims in Orange County, but got no matches in law enforcement databases, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. A break in the case came when investigators received an anonymous tip through Orange County Crime Stoppers about a person, Yucas, who was arrested in an unspecified case in San Diego on Sept. 4, Barnes said. A DNA sample was taken from Yucas and it matched the DNA evidence in the Orange County attacks, Barnes said.

Yucas is a military veteran who served in the Army and Army Reserves as a pilot. He now works as a commercial cargo airline pilot.

Yucas works for Kalitta Air and was returning from a trip abroad when he was arrested Thursday at the airport in Anchorage, Alaska, Barnes said.

He is awaiting extradition back to Orange County. He has been charged with three counts of kidnapping to commit a sex offense, one count of forcible rape, one count of attempted forcible rape and three counts of assault with the intent to commit a sex offense, all felonies.

Yucas lived in Aliso Viejo from 2017 to 2019. Yucas had the same method of operation in each attack: grabbing a woman on the hiking trail and choking the victim into unconsciousness before sexually assaulting them, Barnes alleged.

Woman Beaten, Dragged Into Bushes While Skateboarding In Aliso Viejo
A police sketch of a man wanted for attacking a 22-year-old woman in Woodfield Park in Aliso Viejo, Calif., on Jan. 20, 2020. (Orange County Sheriff's Department)

The three sexual assaults occurred in the area of Woodfield Park. The first such attack took place on Jan. 20, 2020, on a nearby trail. A skateboarder was dragged and beaten, but was able to escape.

In April 2020, a security camera captured a man posing as a runner on a trail seconds before he grabbed a woman and dragged her kicking and screaming into nearby bushes. Authorities said she was sexually assaulted.

On Aug. 28, 2021, a third such attack occurred. The victim was put in a choke hold and dragged into nearby brush. The suspect then attempted to sexually assault her.

All three crimes produced a small DNA sample that had initially turned up inconclusive. Multiple sketches of the suspect were also released.

Investigators believe he may have more prior victims. Yucas could face up to 45 years to life in prison if convicted as charged.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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