Police: Man grabbed girl, 16, outside restroom; charges filed

Police say Romeo Swan followed the girl into a restroom at the Veterans Memorial Building on Center Street earlier this month.

Police: Man grabbed girl, 16, outside restroom; charges filed
The teenager was trying to use a restroom inside the Veterans Memorial Building when a stranger confronted her and grabbed her, Berkeley police wrote in court papers. Google Street View

A man has been charged with felony sex crimes after grabbing a teenage girl when she tried to use a public restroom during the Berkeley farmers market on a recent weekend, court papers show.

Romeo Swan, 25, has been charged with assault with intent to commit a sex crime on a minor and false imprisonment by violence, which are both listed as felonies, court papers show.

Berkeley police wrote that Swan followed the 16-year-old girl into the women's restroom at the Veterans Memorial Building, at 1931 Center St., on Saturday, March 2, at about 12:30 p.m.

Read more about sex crimes in Berkeley.

First, he took a radio she had left outside her stall, police wrote. Then, when she opened the door, "he held his arms out and blocked her from leaving. He repeatedly asked her for a hug and a kiss."

When the girl "made a run" for the exit gate at the veterans building, police say Swan "ran after her and grabbed her from behind by wrapping his arms around her waist" and squeezing hard.

The girl managed to push Swan's arms away and run out of the building, police wrote.

Unfortunately, the girl still needed to use the bathroom, police wrote, so she had the farmers market manager escort her back into the building.

This time, the man stood guard outside the bathroom to keep the girl safe.

While she was still inside, however, "Swan emerged" from the room next door and tried to go back into the women's restroom, according to Berkeley police.

When the manager blocked him from entering, Swan threatened to hurt him, police wrote.

Swan also "made multiple spontaneous statements that were sexual and violent in nature" during his detention, Berkeley police wrote in charging papers.

Romeo Swan. BPD

On Friday, the Alameda County DA's office charged Swan with felony criminal threats in addition to felony sex crime allegations, according to court papers.

Police said Swan was listed as unhoused in Berkeley and also was linked elsewhere to an Emeryville address.

According to the court file, the DA's office opposed a defense motion Monday seeking to have Swan released on his own recognizance.

On Wednesday, he entered not-guilty pleas in connection with the case.

He is now set for a bail hearing Friday followed by a preliminary hearing April 29.

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