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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Suspect Held in Alleged Rape Outside Nightclub

August 04, 2000

SANTA CLARITA — A Canyon Country man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of raping a 22-year-old woman last month outside a popular Santa Clarita nightclub.

Francisco Cruz Tapia, 26, was booked on one count of rape and sodomy after he was arrested by sheriff's investigators on his way to work Wednesday morning. He was being held on $100,000 bail.

Detectives said the July 15 rape occurred in the parking lot of Cantina Beach, in the 22900 block of Soledad Canyon Road.

Tapia and the woman, who did not know each other, were in the bar before the attack, sheriff's Det. Susan Vaziri said. Authorities said Tapia grabbed the woman about 12:15 a.m. and raped her near the sports utility vehicle he had borrowed for the evening.

Vaziri said the woman identified Tapia, a convicted felon, from a security video camera inside the club.

"She was able to point him out on the tape," Vaziri said. "As far as we can tell, Tapia was just another person in the nightclub."

Vaziri also said detectives recognized Tapia. He was convicted in 1993 of assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to two years in prison.

Investigators said they have physical evidence linking Tapia to the crime. Vaziri said detectives are looking for a possible second suspect who was seen by witnesses in the parking lot.

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