A Berkeley man has been charged with five separate sex crimes over the past year. Credit: Google Maps/Berkeleyside
Reneldo Hayden Jr. Credit: BPD

A Berkeley man has been charged with sexual battery and indecent exposure after authorities say he masturbated in front of several women and grabbed one of them during five separate incidents over the past year.

The sex crimes took place in a laundromat, at the library and at San Pablo Park, among other locations in South and southwest Berkeley, police said. The victims ranged in age from 27 to 63, according to BPD.

As of Thursday, 24-year-old Reneldo Hayden Jr. remained in custody at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $45,000, according to court records online.

Police said DNA linked Hayden to at least one of the crime scenes and that surveillance footage, cellphone video and witness identification also helped detectives crack the case.

The first incident, which took place last year on June 7 at 2:30 a.m., was reported to BPD after a man walked up to a 27-year-old woman who was sitting in her car near Ashby and San Pablo avenues and began to masturbate. The woman recorded the man on her cellphone and he left, according to court records.

On Jan. 15, a man walked into a laundromat at 2930 Sacramento St. (near Julia Street) and masturbated in front of a 63-year-old woman. A witness at the laundromat recognized the man as a “local kid” from the neighborhood, according to court papers.

Several weeks later, on Feb. 4, a man approached a 44-year-old janitor working at the South Berkeley branch of the library just before 1:20 a.m. and masturbated while looking at her, police said. BPD collected semen from the scene, which was determined in May to be a DNA match for Hayden, according to court papers.

On April 4, police arrested Hayden just after 6:30 p.m. after a woman in her 30s called police to say a man had just exposed his penis to her and touched his genitals as she stood in her yard near Harper and Prince streets.

“The victim said the subject made eye contact with her through the fence and made no attempt to move away once he realized she was looking back at him,” police said. Officers arrested Hayden within minutes walking a few blocks from the crime scene, according to BPD.

The final report came June 3 when a 52-year-old woman called police about a stranger who had grabbed her buttocks. When the woman first noticed the man, he was only watching her, according to court papers, as she exercised at the San Pablo Park basketball courts shortly before 9 a.m.

“The man moved to a partially concealed location behind the bathrooms at the basketball courts and he continued to stare at the victim,” according to court papers. “The victim believed he was masturbating as he watched her.”

The situation escalated when the woman left the park, police said, when the man “approached her from the rear and grabbed her buttocks.”

Police arrested Hayden on June 12 and served a search warrant at his South Berkeley apartment. During the search, police said, they found “distinctive clothing” Hayden wore during the crimes.

In addition to witnesses who identified Hayden from the incidents that were reported over the past year, Hayden also identified himself in video footage from one of the sex crimes, according to court papers.

This week, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Hayden with sexual battery in connection with the incident at San Pablo Park. Hayden has also been charged with four counts of indecent exposure in connection with four different victims. All of the charges he is facing are misdemeanors.

According to court records online, Hayden is scheduled for a readiness hearing — which generally precedes a trial — on July 1 at the René C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland.

Over the past six months, police in Berkeley have received more than 20 sex crime reports throughout the city, according to CrimeMapping.com, an online repository for local police data.

RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, offers a variety of resources for people who have experienced sexual violence and sexual harassment.

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...