OAKLEY — Residents at an affordable apartment complex here have asked for working security cameras for years. In 2013, the owner of The Oaks Apartments assured city leaders that they would do just that by adding hardware, upgraded software and new cameras to the existing system.
But when Delois Seals, 68, was allegedly sexually assaulted in an elevator at the complex last Christmas Eve, police were informed by management that none of the security cameras worked. Without video footage to back up Seals’ claims, the suspect — who had been arrested at the same complex on suspicion of assault in 2013 — received only four days in jail for public drunkenness.
At an impromptu meeting on rent increases and security issues in July, Seals stood up and reminded the apartment’s owner that she has still not heard from them about fixing the broken cameras.
“I live with it every day, I go to bed with it. There’s new people, but my problem has never changed,” Seals declared to the property managers and the crowded room. “No one has ever said to me, ‘Ms. Seals, I’m sorry about what happened to you.'”
Seals said she felt hurt that none of the owners of the complex, which advertises itself as safe, ever spoke with her. She also felt aggrieved that the suspect, 64-year-old Jaime Enriquez, received such a light sentence.
Seals asked that her real name be used for this article, saying that it would prove her story true and that “it’s not about being afraid, it’s about helping the next woman.”
On Christmas Eve, Seals was carrying gifts to bring to a get-together at her daughter’s house when Enriquez allegedly came into the elevator she was in, pinned her arms to her side, kissed her and pressed into her with his private parts.
After his arrest 12 days later, two other women came forward and claimed that they had been spied on or groped by Enriquez.
On June 18, 2013, deputies from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the same building at 67 Carol Lane after a caller reported a fight. The deputies reportedly came across Enriquez pacing in an elevator, holding an open buck knife, and held him at gunpoint until he dropped the knife. He was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, but no charges were filed against him.
During the investigation into the alleged Christmas Eve assault of Seals, Enriquez initially maintained that he was drinking alone in his apartment all evening and that he did not leave or ride the elevator, according to the police report. After further investigation, Enriquez’s story changed, and he remembered that his wife was home that night and that he did visit neighbors who lived a floor above him. Enriquez maintained, however, that he rode the elevator alone that night.
When the officer noticed the security cameras around the building, he checked with administrative staff but found that the cameras “were inoperable.” Enriquez was later identified through a photo lineup, which his defense attorney called into question as “tainted” during the court case.
Residents, many of them seniors, have been requesting more and better security cameras in the Oaks Apartments for many years, according to City Council documents and reporting from the East Bay Times. As part of a subdivision request in 2013 to add more buildings, the property owner, Los Angeles-based Corporation for Better Housing, assured the Oakley City Council that upgrades were on the way.
CBH has not answered questions concerning the functionality of the cameras, and its executive director, Lori Koester, has failed to follow through with two scheduled interviews with the East Bay Times, and has not responded to emailed questions.
Cameras have never been installed in the elevators, despite requests made by Seals and other residents to CBH and the property manager, Lodi-based Domus Management Co.
After the tenant meeting that Seals spoke at, Erin Mathias, resident services manager with CBH, erroneously claimed that the incident took place two years prior and that Enriquez was immediately arrested.
After the alleged assault of Seals, word of it spread through the 404-unit complex, but the property managers told residents it was just a rumor, according to a number of seniors.
The rumors caught on, and without video evidence to back her up, Seals thought that she was going to be ignored.
“At first, nobody believed me, because there were no cameras,” Seals said as she shook and stuttered outside the meeting. “They didn’t care about me, they never sent a letter, and didn’t say nothing. I’m still the same lady with the same problem.”
After discussing the incident with her brother and her pastor, a number of members of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County arranged a meeting with the police chief to express concern that Enriquez was not going to be arrested.
Pastor Woodrow McGee of Grace Bible Fellowship said he was concerned about the initial charges because Seals, who is his sister, came to him early on and told a different story from what appeared in the initial police report.
“A lot of the things she was saying was happening to her were not in the (police) report,” he said.
Seals alleged that Enriquez had rubbed his genitalia on her, but this fact didn’t appear in the initial police report. A follow-up investigation after a meeting between the faith leaders and police included Seals saying that Enriquez “thrust his groin area” into her groin and hip area.
On Jan. 5, Enriquez was arrested and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office filed simple battery and false imprisonment charges.
On June 28, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed those two charges, and Enriquez pleaded “no contest” to public intoxication charges the same day.
Deputy District Attorney Jack McMahon said the public intoxication charge was not one of the initial charges but that it fit Enriquez’s conduct.
“It was an appropriate resolution based on the evidence we had and based on the nature of the conduct,” McMahon said. “What was important for us and everybody was to make sure he was on a strong grant of probation and that we got a strong protective order for the victim in the case.”
McMahon said that Enriquez’s actions, forcible kissing, did not rise to the level of sexual battery. McMahon said he was not aware of any claim that Enriquez rubbed his groin or genitalia on Seals, though it appears in the police report. McMahon was also not aware of any other women coming forward with claims that Enriquez spied on them or sexually assaulted them, though it also appears in the police report.
Seals said she has still not heard a word from either Domus or CBH. Oakley police would not speak about the specifics of the case.