Santa Barbara – A hot time at Santa Barbara’s popular downtown nightclub “Tonic” was the scene of a felony arrest just after midnight on August 19th when Elpidio Garcia-Venegas, 29, apparently crossed the line of social propriety on the dance floor.
According to Santa Barbara Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Riley Harwood, Garcia-Venegas had offered to buy a 22-year-old female club patron a drink. She reportedly accepted his beverage offer, whereupon Garcia-Venegas pushed her across the dance floor and against a nearby wall where, Riley reported to the media, “he pulled down a portion of the top of her dress and made unwanted physical contact” with her. Pinned against a wall with loud music rendering her cries for help unheard by others in the club, the couple were noticed by an employee who observed “a panicked look on her face,” according to Harwood, and shined a flashlight at Garcia-Venegas to confront him.
At that point, Garcia-Venegas attempted to exit the premises, but was restrained by the club employee and quickly escorted outside to the sidewalk area where club security held him until law enforcement could be summoned.
Responding SBPD patrol officers investigated the scene and interviewed the victim, whereupon it was determined that a crime had, in fact, been committed in a cacaphonous environment of blaring music, fog machines, and pulsating strobe lights. “A observer would have had to be standing beside the two individuals to realize what was going on with the suspect and his victim,” Harwood said in his report to the media.
The victim was taken to Santa Barbara Police Department Headquarters and put into contact with the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, while Garcia-Venegas was arrested at the scene and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges including sexual battery with bail set at $25,000.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking; Tonic Nightclub
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