BREAKING: San Martin Rape Suspect Arrested in San Jose

Sharwian Bobian—who went missing for more than a month after the Santa Clara County District Attorney declined to file rape charges against him—was arrested Friday morning after a days-long manhunt.

The 43-year-old mentally ill homeless man was last seen Jan. 4 at his makeshift shelter in San Martin, just a half-mile from the victim’s home and just two days after the Sheriff’s Office had to release him because the DA deemed the case too difficult to prosecute.

The victim, whose name is being withheld being withheld to protect her privacy, started crying when she found out about the suspect’s capture. “Oh my God,” she said, pausing to catch her breath between sobs. “Oh my God, what a relief.”

Her husband, hearing the news for the first time, said he’s glad the suspect is off the streets. “I can’t believe it,” he said in a phone call minutes after the arrest. “I was just saying this morning, every time my phone rings I’m just waiting to get this call.”

The Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction over the case because the alleged crime took place in unincorporated South County, began canvassing local homeless encampments on Monday as soon as the DA filed a rape charge.

A San Jose policeman spotted Bobian at Highway 101 and Yerba Buena Road. Recognizing his face from news reports, the cop asked for his name, ran a background check to confirm the outstanding warrant and made the arrest shortly before 10am today.

“It was good old-fashioned proactive police work,” SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia said of the officer who made the arrest. “He made us all proud today.”

Bobian was escorted out of the Sheriff's Office headquarters on West Younger Avenue shortly before noon. Wearing a tan shirt, matching pants and shackles on his wrists, he averted his eyes down. Officers clad in bulletproof vests guided him from the main entrance to a patrol car waiting at the curb as reporters looked on.

Sharwian Bobian was captured more than a month after his initial release. (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

Sheriff Laurie Smith held a small press conference after the suspect left in which she applauded her officers and SJPD for re-arresting Bobian. She also said she believes the charges should have been filed a lot sooner because the case was thoroughly investigated when she first referred it to the DA in early January.

Through a spokesman, DA Jeff Rosen announced that Bobian will be arraigned at 1:30pm Wednesday. If convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison.

“We would like to thank the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office for their thorough investigation,” the DA said in a prepared statement, “and the San Jose Police Department for making today's arrest.”

Authorities—the DA’s office in particular—hoped to keep the search this week a secret and tried to discourage San Jose Inside from publicizing anything about it. But the victim and her husband said they wanted the public to know.

“I think the media push really helped despite the DA’s office telling us to squelch it,” the husband said this morning.

Bobian was taken to jail today after a days-long manhunt. (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

The first order of business was to draw Bobian’s blood, which happened at the Sheriff’s Office HQ within a couple hours of the arrest.

Because a Valley Medical Center phlebotomist failed to collect a sufficient blood sample when they had him in custody Jan. 3, they couldn’t test him for HIV status. And because the disease takes time to manifest upon transmission, the victim had no way of knowing if she contracted the incurable immunodeficiency virus.

The only thing she could do, doctors told her, was to refrain from all physical intimacy for at least six months—just to be safe. “So now what we need is that guy’s blood,” the husband said. “If that gets cleared up, that’s a huge part of it right there that will give us the relief we really need right now.”

News of the arrest lifted a huge weight off his shoulders, the victim’s husband said.

“The fact that they got him and have charges against him is such a relief,” he added. “At least, we’re headed in the right direction of getting her some justice.”

Smith said the ordeal this week has inspired her to create an office of victim services within the Sheriff’s Office. The DA has its own such unit, but the sheriff told reporters she’ll ask the county to fund a counterpart under her purview.

She closed her presser today with a message for people like the woman in San Martin who reported the rape: “Victims of sexual assault, we will walk with you.”

Morgan Hill Times editor Michael Moore also contributed to this report. 

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

13 Comments

  1. Seems Santa Clara County’s District Attorney Jeff Rosen has been using the playbook from AMI, the media outlet that Jeff Bezos has accused of using blackmail and extortion to bury stories.

    “DA’s office in particular hoped to keep the search a secret and tried to discourage San Jose Inside from publicizing…”

    Of course Jeff Rosen wanted his office bumbling of the rape case secreted and used the usual tactics to try to kill the story ( they may have done so with the San Jose Mercury).

    The botched rape investigation is on Rosen’s hands and had San Jose Inside not covered the story, Rosen’s culture of prosecuting crimes favorable to his political career would have continued.

    Prosecutors are supposed to investigate crimes, not people. If that investigation leads to people unable to stand trial being committed to mental intuitions as a matter of public safety, so be it. That is how the system is designed to work. Sadly, Mr. Rosen seems to have forgotten that and allowed himself to become intoxicated with the power that comes with winning two elections for DA unopposed.

    Mr. Rosen has used people in his department to attack Sherriff Laurie Smith, and members of the media, critical of his office or the local courts, where is wife is employed as a family court judge. These attacks are similar to what we are seeing happen in Washington D.C. such that it is more critical than ever for the local press to continue to push the DA for greater transparency and accountability.

    In the absence of media attention Mr. Rosen will highjack the Arch of Moral Truth and bend it toward advancing his own political career and the careers of the DDAs who have supported him.

    Sean Webby, a former reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, was hand selected by Rosen and has worked to successfully kill media coverage of Rosen’s failures, and the dismal performance of the Victim Witness Service Program who let this rape victim, and every other down since Mr. Rosen took it over in 2015.

    Marsy’s Law demands that the rape victim be provided help and support, Rosen has taken money to provide those services, but has repeatedly fallen short.

    DDA Terry Harman, Jay Boyarsky, Sonja Arndt, James Gibbons- Shapiro, Allison Filo, Admir Alem, Carlos Vega, and James Demertzis all have documented conduct of violating the DAO policies and procedures, failing victims and for using the DA’s office as a special club that offers special protections for pubic corruption, and immunity for some of the county’s most dangerous predators. It is the duty of the Board of Supervisors to manage and supervise the District Attorney.

    The fact that the DA released a rapist and caused our law enforcement agencies to have to engage in a more costly manhunt must be investigated. The cases Mr. Rosen has refused to investigate absent media pressure, should also be investigated.

    San Jose Inside has taken on some of the most corrupt politicians in Santa Clara County. Thanks for keeping a steady hand on that tiller! Nice Job Wadsworth- this is what local reporting should look like.

    • Well said! Our small village of San Martin is an easy place to take advantage of because of our size, roughly 7,000 residents, and our lack of proper representation. The people however, are not.

      • > We together will work to ensure every person in this county independently of race, gender, sexual orientation, creed, or no creed, Reps, Dems, and the rest are respected and protected by the law.

        “Protected by the law” equally or unequally?

        I know that not everyone agrees, but personally, I’m for EQUAL protection under the law.

  2. Good job, Sheriff Smith and your department! Does’nt the DA have a small army of investigators at his disposal? It would be interesting to learn how many he had deployed in the search, if any.

  3. No more breaks for rapists and domestic violence aggressors! If they live with mental illness, give them treatment while in jail, mental health unit. This system makes people under the influence and mentally ill pay for property they destroy. Thus JEFF ROSEN saying this case was hard to prosecute sends message that breaking into a car or destroying other property is more important to the system than a woman being raped. This guy is not only a danger for this victim but to homeless women too! RECALL JEFF ROSEN!

    • If he is unfit for trial, it would mean his mental illness is so severe he won’t be able to stop himself from continuing raping people. Therefore he has to be in a mental institution. If he will be on the streets physically assaulting people, women, this discussion would not be taking place. How is raping a woman less of a crime than a physical assault? Psychologists make the psychological unfit to stand trial by the use of already existing testing instruments and assessments, not judges or DAs’ will judgement. Not all homeless men or men living with mental illness engage in raping people. He is a homeless guy which is not a crime. He lives with mental illness, not a crime either. He raped a woman; this is a crime!

  4. People, KAMALA HARRIS is third place on National Polls! Help her become the next president by contributing to her campaign; even $5 dollar contribution monthly will help a lot. We need a woman as president, A CALIFORNIA, Bay Area woman. KAMALA FOR THE PEOPLE; KAMALA FOR PRESIDENT!

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