COSTA MESA — Things were getting weird in Costa Mesa, with detectives on the trail of a suspect reported to have been sexually harassing women in the south area of the city.
Heller Park (200 block of E. 16th Street) was of particular interest. Last week, police received a tip via social media regarding a suspicious male subject frequenting the park and approaching women whether they be alone, in groups, or accompanying children. He is said to have made several attempts at unsolicited, often inappropriate conversation or physical contact.
On July 21, after a report from a woman claiming to have been approached by an apparently-transient man who began asking questions and generally invading her comfort zone, officers headed to the park. There they met the subject in question, 24-year-old Mark Marroquin, who was asked to leave and ultimately complied.
The next day, however, an officer once again dropped by after a report that Marroquin had returned. Though he hadn’t been creeping this time (yet), his presence alone put people on edge and he was once again told to leave, which he did.
Now as it turns out, Marroquin was no stranger to Costa Mesa Police.
He’d been previously arrested back on May 4th on suspicion of child annoyance and sexual battery. More specifically, a 14-year-old girl had called in alleging that Marroquin had attempted to touch her and her friend inappropriately as they walked the area of W. 18th, Wallace Avenue, and Shalimar Drive. They went on to say that Marroquin kept riding his bike past them, verbally harassing them, and went so far as to try for a butt grab. The resulting arrest and court actions landed Marroquin on probation, the terms of which decreed that he was to stay at least 100 yards away from the Shalimar Drive area at all times.
Fast-forward to July 28, when an officer observed Marroquin hanging around the 7-11 convenience store on E. 17th Street and Orange Avenue. Plainclothes detectives arrived soon thereafter to keep an eye on him, only to watch him drift into the area of Pomona Avenue, which was within 100 yards of Shalimar Drive — thus violating his probation. He was promptly arrested and taken to Costa Mesa Jail, then later transferred and booked into Orange County Jail.
Costa Mesa police are also conducting a follow-up investigation with potential victims to determine whether or not to seek charges for violations of child annoyance, sexual battery, or lewd conduct.
Marroquin’s official description is: Hispanic male, 24 years old, approximately 5′ 7″ and 140 pounds, medium-length brown hair, and brown eyes. He is frequently unshaven or with a moderate beard and mustache, and has also been reported to sometimes be carrying a backpack that may have a sleeping back attached.
Anyone with information regarding this case, including potential victims, is encouraged to contact the Costa Mesa Police Department Investigations Bureau at (714) 754-5205.
Costa Mesa PD press release (Nixle)