City College sued by rape victim

Chris Cadelago, Chris Cadelago, Chris Cadelago, and Chris Cadelago

The woman raped by an on-duty security officer in a college security truck is suing City College, claiming the college’s failure to investigate a prior assault on campus put her in harm’s way.

On Nov. 14, 2004, Kent Kafatia was working the graveyard shift when he offered Natasha Deacon a ride home in a campus security truck. Instead of dropping her off at her home, he drove to 303 La Marina Drive where he held her captive and forcibly raped her. On July 5, 2005, Kafatia was convicted of rape and false imprisonment and is now serving an eight-year sentence in prison.

Deacon, a former City College student, is charging that the college failed to protect her from its employee, who it should have known was “a sexual predator who preyed on young women,” according to the official complaint filed Nov. 4, 2005.

The Santa Barbara Community College District, Superintendent-President John Romo Kafatia and Security Director John Dafoe are all defendants in the case along with the City College. Dafoe remains on a medical leave of absence, which began the day after The Channels published a story looking into the security department’s records keeping. In rebuttal, Romo maintained that City College is a safe campus. He said it is college procedure not to comment directly on pending litigation. However, he did repeat statements he made in the past concerning former security officer Kafatia.

“As I have always said, the Kafatia situation was a terrible crime,” Romo said. “Nothing in [Kafatia’s] record while he worked at the college offered us any indication this could happen.”

On Dec. 6, 2003, a woman on campus reported an assault and attempted rape to the Santa Barbara Police Department. She described her attacker as a dark skinned male, clean cut, athletic build with a slight accent driving a pickup truck, according to documents obtained from the court.

Deacon’s claim states that, “Defendants knew, or should have known, that defendant Kent Wesley Kafatia is a dark skin, clean cut, athletic male who is from the country of Malawi and speaks with a slight accent.” The claim goes on to say that, “Kafatia regularly worked the overnight shift driving a security truck as he did the morning of Dec. 6, 2003.”

The claim criticizes the college for the apparent disconnect between its security office and the local police department.

“The Santa Barbara Police Department advised the SBCC security personnel of the sexual assault/attempted rape and description of the attacker and the truck.

[The] Defendants failed to take any reasonable efforts or measures to investigate the information provided by the SB Police Department,” the claim states.

Deacon’s attorney Gregory Phillips said he was not at liberty to discuss the case in any detail, but did say he would be more comfortable talking if the claim where further down the legal pipeline.

“The claim speaks for itself,” Phillips said. “At this point we can’t mention how much we are asking for or whether we prefer a settlement or trial.”

Deacon is seeking at least $25,000 in punitive and monetary damages for personal injury suffered, hospital and medical expenses, and loss of earnings.

As of press deadline Monday morning, City College attorney Rick Hardin could not be reached for comment on the claim. Attempts to contact him at his downtown Santa Barbara office went unreturned. Romo did say he directed his council and City College staff to bunt over all questions concerning the claim to him.

“I don’t like not talking in this situation but it’s the wisest decision we can make right now,” Romo said, on the fact that the college has not offered a refutation.

Romo did want to stress to students and the community that the college and its staff takes crime prevention on campus serious.

“Our security team is dedicated; our staff is committed and we will make sure it stays that way,” Romo said.

Judge Denise de Bellefeuille has been assigned the case. Judge Clifford Anderson delivered the sentence in Kafatia’s previous trial.

A case management conference is scheduled for March 9, 2006.