Witnesses thwart rape attempt, capture suspect

When Gontran Vivaldo Moranchel grabbed an 18-year-old woman in broad daylight and tried to rape her, as police charge he did, he apparently didn’t realize he’d been seen.

The woman was walking in the 600 block of West Third Street, between Ivy and Hazel streets. It was just before 8 a.m. on June 17. Chico police Sgt. Dave Barrow alleged that Moranchel, a 52-year-old transient, grabbed the woman and dragged her behind a nearby house, where he pulled down her pants and panties and tried to have intercourse with her.

The woman, whose name is not being released, had trouble fighting off her attacker because she was heavily intoxicated at the time, Barrow said.

But neighbors and passersby saw someone drag off the woman, Barrow said, and intervened during the attack. After calling police, they held Moranchel down until officers arrived, Barrow said.

“It’s lucky that they saw what was happening,” Barrow said. “They really saved her.”

Moranchel was charged with attempted rape and kidnapping and booked into Butte County Jail.