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Woman Attacked, Robbed in Home


LAGUNA BEACH — A 70-year-old woman was sexually assaulted and robbed in her home early Sunday by an intruder who put a pillow over her face and tied her up.

The woman, who lives in the 2000 block of Catalina Street, is partly disabled. After the attack, she had to hobble across the street to call police because the intruder had cut the phone lines. Her bedridden, 84-year-old husband was asleep in a hospital bed in the living room but woke up when the attacker came looking for the victim's purse, police said.

Laguna Beach police said the man entered the home about 5 a.m. after cutting a hole in a window screen in the back of the house. He then assaulted the woman in her bedroom but did not rape her, police said.

"He sexually battered her and demanded money from her purse. She told him where it was and he went looking for it," Police Sgt. Lance Ishmael said.

"That's when the husband woke up and verbally confronted the guy," Ishmael said. "The man walked over and put his hands over the gentleman's face and muffled him. He again asked for the purse, and he pointed toward it."

After the intruder fled with less than $100 from the purse, the woman untied herself and went across the street to neighbors.

"She could hardly breathe when we got there. . . . She's an invalid, and it was hard on her," Ishmael said.

The woman was examined by paramedics but refused to go to a hospital.

The victims were unable to give a description of the attacker other than to say he spoke with a European accent. Police said they have no other witnesses and found no suspects in a search of the area.

Police said the couple live on Social Security and have no children. Friends help them by bringing groceries and supplies.

Ishmael described the neighborhood, two blocks inland from Coast Highway, as "very quiet."

"We don't have many residential robberies (in Laguna Beach). . . . I think we had one other one about eight months or a year ago, but the circumstances were not the same," he said, adding that police have beefed up patrols in the area.

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