A man who was convicted last year of attacking his own mother, causing serious injuries, is back in jail this week after chasing two young women at a Berkeley park and making sexually explicit comments, according to authorities and court records reviewed by Berkeleyside.
Police say 33-year-old James Clinton (transient) accosted at least two Berkeley women in their 20s within less than an hour Thursday at Ohlone Park, chasing them and making inappropriate remarks. One of the women told police she had been terrified by the encounter. The other waved down a stranger driving by and got into their car to escape.
Police initially were called to Ohlone Park after a woman who had been walking home from the store at 5 p.m. reported a disturbing interaction. The woman said a stranger — later identified as Clinton — had chased her and told her he would rape her if he saw her again.
Afraid the man would follow her home, she flagged down a passing motorist at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Hearst Avenue, at the corner of Ohlone Park, and got into their car for safety, according to police.
BPD bike patrol officers — the department’s proactive street team — responded to the park and arrested Clinton. During his detention, according to police, Clinton had a visible erection and made multiple sexual remarks to a female officer.
After being advised of his right to remain silent, according to court papers, “Clinton made several admissions regarding this incident and stated ‘She was attractive. I was trying to chase her.’ He denied threatening to rape Victim #1 and claimed he might have said he ‘wanted to date her.'”
As they investigated the case, officers came across a report from about 4:10 p.m. Thursday from a young woman who said she had been walking from Delaware Street — just north of the park — onto MLK when she saw a man sitting under a tree yelling at two girls jogging by. The girls seemed to ignore him, but the incident caught the woman’s attention, according to BPD.
When Clinton noticed the woman looking at him, BPD said, he began yelling at her to come over. Instead, the woman increased her pace and continued to walk away. BPD said Clinton just yelled louder and began to chase the woman, who was ultimately able to get to a safe location and call police. She told officers the incident had left her terrified, BPD said.
According to court papers, Clinton — who is on probation — already had two active felony warrants, from Sonoma and Alameda counties, at the time of his arrest last week.
Clinton has at least 10 separate criminal cases dating back to 2019 in Alameda County, according to court records online. Many of those cases were for misdemeanor crimes but, in two of them — in 2019 and 2021 — he was charged with violent felonies and elder abuse.
In court papers related to the 2021 case, which took place in Albany, police said Clinton attacked his 71-year-old mother, causing significant injuries to her face and throat. Authorities only discovered the attack after concerned relatives, unable to reach the woman, asked APD to do a welfare check on her.
During that investigation, in April 2021, Albany police arrested Clinton on suspicion of attempted murder; he was ultimately charged with felony elder abuse and was convicted of that crime in June 2021. Clinton was released from custody on his own recognizance in December 2021, but failed to appear for his sentencing hearing, officials said, resulting in the issuance of a warrant for his arrest.
On Monday, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Clinton with assault to commit a sex crime and two counts of stalking, all three of which are listed as felonies. The documents include a number of enhancements that could result in more serious penalties if Clinton is convicted, including that the victims in the Ohlone Park case were “particularly vulnerable,” and that Clinton was on probation when he was arrested last week.
If convicted of the charges listed in court papers, Clinton would have to register as a sex offender for life, according to charging documents.
Clinton is now being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. He was slated for arraignment Tuesday. His next court date was not listed as of publication time.
Featured photo: Ohlone Park in 2015. Credit: William Newton