SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An ex-con accused of sexually assaulting a 24-year-old woman in broad daylight on a Mission Beach street pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of assault with intent to commit a sex crime.
Philemon Shark, 40, who has two prior convictions from Washington state for residential burglary from 2014 and 2015, faces life in prison if convicted, said San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Trisha Amador.
Judge Joseph Brannigan set Shark's bail at $1 million and ordered the defendant to have no contact with the alleged victim.
Amador said all sexual assaults -- no matter what level -- are ``serious'' and taken ``exceptionally serious'' by the District Attorney's Office.
``I think part of the concern is that when an individual is attacked in broad daylight in an area where they felt safe or did not feel a threat, of course that's added concern, but our office takes all sexual assaults equally as serious,'' the prosecutor said outside court.
The attack happened about 8:40 a.m. last Sunday on Bayside Lane near San Jose Lane, just off Mission Boulevard, according to San Diego Police Lt. Jason Weeden.
Weeden said the victim was walking south when Shark allegedly approached her from behind, threw her to the ground and held her down while he assaulted her. The woman screamed for help, and several residents forced the man off her, the lieutenant said.
When Shark tried to leave, some of the residents followed him but lost track of him, Weeden said. Then, about 45 minutes after the attack, one of the neighbors found Shark hiding in a breezeway. Shark allegedly fled but was apprehended by patrol officers and booked into jail.
Weeden said Shark is from the Seattle area and was believed to have been living in San Diego for the last few months.
He will be back in court Jan. 8 for a readiness conference and Jan. 10 for a preliminary hearing.