Homer man charged with sexual assault of woman in City Hall parking lot

the Homer courthouse
The state courthouse in Homer (Corinne Smith/KBBI)

Editor’s note: The following story contains graphic descriptions of violence and sexual assault. For more information about resources and reporting of a sexual assault contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 and for a list of all local 24/7 hotlines visit dps.alaska.gov.

A Homer man has been arrested and charged with allegedly attacking, strangling and sexually assaulting a woman leaving a local bar last weekend, in the parking lot of Homer City Hall.

Homer resident Charles Torzillo, 40, was arrested by Homer Police officers and has been charged with five counts of felony sexual assault, including strangulation of a victim until she was unconscious, and two counts of assault for intentional injury, according to court documents.

According to the charging documents, at about 2 a.m. on April 8, the Homer Police Department received a 911 call from a woman who reported she had just been sexually assaulted in the City Hall parking lot. The woman is not identified, in accordance with Alaska State law to protect victims’ privacy. When officers arrived, she said she had just been attacked, thrown to the ground, strangled until unconscious and sexually assaulted. She said she passed out and when she woke up the attacker was gone, and she called 911, the charges say. Officers observed drag marks in the dirt and footprints on a nearby car, as well as semen and saliva on the car.

The woman told officers she may have been drugged, according to the charges. As officers were speaking to her, a taxi pulled into the parking lot. A male in the back seat, later identified as Torzillo, got out. The victim told officers, “That’s him.” She was then transported to South Peninsula Hospital for medical evaluation and treatment for injuries.

Officers spoke with Torzillo, who claimed the sexual encounter was consensual, and said he had returned to the parking lot to make sure she was okay, according to court documents. Officers report he was visibly intoxicated and disheveled, with dirt on his clothes. He agreed to a search, where they found a container that appeared to have a white powder residue, but Torzillo denied having prescriptions or controlled substances in his possession. The container was collected as evidence. He was taken into custody, and Homer police are completing a forensic investigation.

“This is a very unfortunate case, one we hate to see happen in Homer or anywhere in our world, of course,” said Homer Police Chief Mark Robl. “It involves a high level of violence against a woman victim here in Homer. And we’re sad that it happened. We’re investigating it fully.”

Robl said Homer is a tight-knit community, and law enforcement is focused on protecting the survivor’s privacy and wellbeing. He urged the public to do the same.

“We certainly sympathize with the victim as she recovers — or tries to recover, rather — from this horrible crime,” he said. “I realized that some folks out in the community might be able to identify her or somehow learn her identity, and we would urge everyone to respect her privacy as she’s going through this difficult time.”

Robl said this type of violent assault is uncommon for Homer, but residents should remain aware.

“This is a very rare crime for Homer. And it does not happen frequently by any means,” Robl said. “Again, it’s a very rare, unusual occurrence here. But it just goes to show that all people need to be very careful with their surroundings and who they’re with, and what they’re doing. And especially take extra caution if they’ve been in that bar scene, and maybe had a drink or two and have lost some of their inhibitions. People should watch out for each other. It’s wise to always go out with friends, and never let your guard down.”

Torzillo’s bail was set at $10,000. On Friday, he posted bond and was released under house arrest, with an ankle monitor, in the custody of his mother.

Torzillo’s next court date is April 19 at Kenai Superior Court.

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