Man threatened woman to get her off train, then sexually assaulted her, charges say

Man threatened woman to get her off train, then sexually assaulted her, charges say

Tufa Sexually Assaulted a woman
Tibesso Hamine Tufa

(Twin Cities) — A man sat next to a 22-year-old woman on a light-rail train, threatened to kill her if she didn’t get off the train, and then sexually assaulted her nearby in St. Paul, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.

The woman called 911 at about 10:24 p.m. May 24 from the area of University and Western avenues.

“She sounded frantic and said a male was following her,” the complaint said. The 911 operator heard the woman screaming and a male voice in the background.

A responding officer saw a woman walking and crying on University Avenue near Galtier Street. “She repeatedly asked the officer, ‘Can I just get in your car?!,” according to the complaint. “The officer assured her she would be safe now and had her get in the back of his squad car.”

The woman, whose birthday was that day and who was described as a “vulnerable adult” in police reports, had left work in Minneapolis and boarded a light-rail train. She told police she doesn’t like to sit next to anyone, but a man had maneuvered into the window seat next to her.

The woman tried to get away from him and moved to a different seat, though the man followed and sat next to her. When she attempted to move again, he threatened to kill her.

After the woman managed to get up and leave the train car, the man followed and threatened her again. She got off the train at Western Avenue and hoped to reboard at another platform, but the man kept following and she called 911.

“He suddenly physically attacked (the woman) in a nearby parking lot,” the complaint said. “She screamed. The male grabbed her phone and ordered her to stop screaming or he would kill her.”

The woman said she fell to the ground and the man got on top of her, touched her “everywhere” under her clothing and sexually assaulted her, the complaint said.

The man finally threw the woman’s phone and ran away.

Metro Transit police officers were later given a surveillance photograph of the man who followed the woman and were told to stop and identify him if they saw him. The next day, officers saw a man matching the photo and identified him as Tibesso Hamine Tufa, 35, of St. Paul, the complaint said.

Tufa went to St. Paul police headquarters to be interviewed May 31, but then declined to be, according to the complaint.

The Ramsey County attorney’s office charged Tufa with second-degree criminal sexual conduct Thursday.