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The Daily Tar Heel

Warrants issued in SECU assault

DPS has named Rafael Gaona Sierra in the Friday attack.

UNC’s Department of Public Safety issued warrants Sunday for the arrest of Rafael Gaona Sierra after a sexual assault was reported at the State Employees Credit Union Family House last week.

The warrants charge Gaona with second-degree rape, which involves the use of force against the will of the individual or an assault on an individual who is mentally or physically disabled.

The SECU Family House is an organization that provides patients at UNC Hospitals and their families a place to stay during the duration of their treatment.

According to a DPS flyer, Gaona is a 55-year-old Hispanic male who is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds. Information on UNC’s Alert Carolina emergency notification website also states that Gaona has tattoos on his left forearm and upper right arm and a scar on his left cheek.

The flyer states that Gaona is a known visitor of the Chapel Hill and Clinton areas and he is possibly driving a 2002 Mercury Sable GS 4DR.

The assault occurred Friday evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the house on Old Mason Farm Road in Chapel Hill.

Janice McAdams, executive director of the house, said in a statement this weekend that there was not a break-in at the facility and that staff are cooperating fully with DPS.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the family involved,” she said in an email.

McAdams said she could not give any additional information because of the nature of the case, but said the family house continues to be a safe place for its guests.

Randy Young , spokesman for DPS, said the department is handling the incident because the house is on University property.

He said the incident was the first sexual assault reported to DPS this semester and they were able to identify the suspect by footage from security cameras on the property.

However, he added that noncriminal reports of assault might have been filed this semester with other campus outlets such as Campus Health Services.

The warrant states that anyone with additional information should contact Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515 or investigator Ross Barbee at 919-962-0564.

Callers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a cash reward.

Young said DPS is working with all area agencies on the investigation.

“We hope to continue to partner with the community to locate the person of interest — it will hopefully be over quickly because we have posted warrants,” Young said.

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