A tale of terror is unfolding in the Santa Monica trial of five men accused of raping three women and assaulting two men in a 26-hour period last summer on Santa Monica Beach.
The rapes took place on two consecutive nights about 200 yards south of the Jonathan Club at lifeguard station No. 10, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. Lauren Weis.
According to testimony, the first rape occurred about 1:30 a.m. on July 14, 1984. The victim said that she and her boyfriend were sleeping on a blanket when they were awakened by four men, who took turns raping her. Her boyfriend, Matthew Yancy, said the rapists held a gun to his head while they raped his girlfriend, a 30-year-old Hollywood woman.
The other rapes occurred at the same place about 3 a.m. on July 15, when two 25-year-old women, one from Orinda and one from West Los Angeles, and a male friend went to the beach to look for grunion.
David Rothenberg, 29, testified that several men approached him and the two women on the beach. Rothenberg, a West Los Angeles resident, said that he fought the men, finally escaping by swimming into the ocean. The two women, both nurses, have not yet testified in the jury trial.
However, during a preliminary hearing in Municipal Court last year, they said that one was raped by one man and the other by another man.
All three women testified during the preliminary hearing that their attackers forced sand into their mouths and throats to keep them from screaming.
The suspects were arrested July 15, 1984, in a beach parking lot near the scene of the rapes. They were charged with both the July 14 and the July 15 rapes after some of the victims identified them, Weis said.
Oscar Ivan Chavez, Jaime William Aleman, Santos Buruca and Abraham Buruca Umanzor, who range in age from 18 to 25, are charged in the first rape and in the assault on Yancy.
Buruca, Chavez and Aleman are charged with raping the two women and assaulting David Rothenberg on the second night. A fifth man, Jose Humberto Pena, will be tried separately on rape and assault charges, according to Weis. Each of the suspects is being held on $100,000 bail.