Fresno State sex predator likely headed for short punishment

FRESNO, Calif.

Forty-nine-year-old Fidel Tafoya appeared in court Friday on misdemeanor sexual battery charges. Tafoya has been arrested for crimes on college campuses from Texas to California at least ten times. He's never stayed in jail longer than three years.

But before AB-109, his last crime here could've kept him in a lot longer. Fidel Tafoya walked out of court Friday and back to the Fresno County jail, a place he knows all too well. The 49-year-old has faced more than a dozen charges of a sexual nature since 1998.

His chief target is college campuses, and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Eric Hickey says he's living out a fantasy.

"So he chooses young women on campuses and it's probably thrilling and sexually arousing for him to go and approach them and it's not just that he physically does it, but it's the process, the thought process of doing it, the fantasy he goes through to accomplish the task," Dr. Hickey said.

Action News reported on Tafoya last November, after an arrest for touching a woman at Fresno State's library after cutting off a GPS monitor. He pled guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery, but six months later, he was out of jail. And this week, police say he cut off another GPS monitor and did the same thing to a different woman.

He's never escalated to an assault and Hickey says, even though he is sick, he may never commit more violent crimes. "At this point, there doesn't appear to be any real danger other than he's a public nuisance, and how much more will the public put up with," he said.

The public may have to put up with it more now than before the prison realignment in 2011. Back then, a parole violation like cutting off a GPS monitor would've earned Tafoya a new prison stay and a mandatory psychological evaluation.

Now, he'll stay in jail, and not for long. Once he's released, Hickey says Tafoya's behavior is predictable.

"When he gets out, he will reoffend," Dr. Hickey said. "He is still young enough and he's got these fantasies and they're not going to be able to fix his fantasies while he's locked up in jail for six months."

Tafoya is due back in court later this month. But he's charged with a misdemeanor again and the maximum punishment is six months in jail.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.