Before he attacked them, the stranger would follow his victims to their Del Mar homes. He would return later to sneak in through an unlocked door, grab the victim from behind, press a cold blade to her throat.
The ambushes started in 1993. Over three years, seven women were attacked. Five were sexually assaulted.
All of the victims were alone in their homes, and some were fresh out of the shower when he confronted them. Most were threatened at knifepoint and tied up. One was badly beaten, her hair pulled out.
It ended in 1996. As the stranger fled, his last victim screamed and chased him until others jumped in and tackled the assailant: Robert Rustad, a 22-year-old MiraCosta College student and Del Mar resident.
Rustad pleaded guilty to three dozen crimes, including rape. He was sentenced to 326 years to life in prison.
On Wednesday, after 24 years in custody, Rustad has his first shot at parole.
Rustad qualifies for a parole hearing because the law has changed since he went to prison in 1997. It now takes into account a person’s age at the time of their offense. Rustad was young — in his case, between the ages of 19 and 22 — when he committed the crimes.
The law change means young offenders get a shot at parole after serving 25 years in prison. That includes murderers.
However, that same law excluded those convicted under a one-strike sex offense law, as Rustad was. Then last year, an appellate court found that exclusion was unconstitutional. While legal wrangling continues, Rustad gets the hearing.
A rapist who terrorized Del Mar got 326 years in prison. The law changed and now he’s up for parole
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