By Neil Farrell
A San Luis Obispo transient man and convicted sex offender faces felony charges after he allegedly stroked the hair of several little girls — two in separate incidents on the same day.
According to SLOPD Capt. Chris Staley, at about 4:33 p.m. Monday, June 25, police responded to the Sephora store at 1090 Court St., for a report of a man touching the hair of a 10-year-old girl inside the store.
The caller — the girl’s mother — told dispatchers that a man “grabbed her young daughter’s hair and left after being confronted by a witness,” reads a news release. “The caller provided a physical description of the subject and said he left southbound toward Higuera.”
Officers patrolling Downtown spotted a man fitting the description walking in the 700 block of Higuera St. “The suspect was detained and positively identified by witnesses,” Capt. Staley said.
The suspect, identified by police as Jonathan Davis, 43, a transient in SLO, was booked into County Jail on suspicion of battery and annoying or molesting a child under-18, both misdemeanors. Davis, who is a registered sex offender, had his bail set at $5,000.
But news coverage of the incident and a police plea for anyone with further information to contact them, led to other incidents being reported, including another, nearly identical touching incident that reportedly occurred earlier the same day.
According to SLOPD Lt. John Bledsoe, “After Davis’s arrest, four other reports have been filed identifying Davis as touching other young girls.
“Davis was initially charged with misdemeanors for annoying/molesting these victims,” but Lt. Bledsoe said the Department “has amended these charges to felonies based on Davis’s prior history, which included similar crimes and forced him to register as a sex offender. Davis remains in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail with his bail set at $100,000.”
One such report came in on June 28 when a store clerk said Davis had allegedly “rubbed his fingers through the hair” of another young girl in his or her store.
“This incident,” Lt. Bledsoe said, “occurred at the Chevron gas station at 3180 Broad St., on Saturday June 23 at approximately 11 a.m.”
That gas station has had numerous incidents involving homeless people, as it sits around the corner from the overnight homeless shelter.
Lt. Bledsoe explained that it appears the girl, “entered the store to pay for gasoline. While standing at the counter, Davis approached the girl, rubbed his fingers through her hair then left the store.”
That girl didn’t say anything and was initially unidentified. Police were alerted to the incident by the store clerk days later, after hearing of Davis’ arrest in the Sephora case.
“The victim in this case,” Lt. Bledsoe said, “is a female, white, approximately 8 to 10-years of age. She was wearing a black short sleeve ‘Giants’ T-shirt and black leggings pants. The victim was seen leaving in a white, 4-door BMW 5 series sedan.”
Police released a surveillance shot of the girl standing at the store counter with her back turned to the camera. Davis is standing to the right of her.
“It is likely the parents of this victim do not know about this incident,” Lt. Bledsoe said. “The San Luis Obispo Police Department is asking for anyone who is familiar with this victim, her family, or the vehicle associated with her to contact us immediately.”
Asked how simply touching someone’s hair constitutes a crime or if Davis’ sex offender status made it a more serious matter, SLOPD Sgt. Jeff Booth explained that a battery “is committed when someone unlawfully touches another person regardless of prior convictions.”
If you have information about this or similar crimes, call SLOPD at (805) 781-7312 or Crime Stoppers at (805) 549-STOP.