Parole bid denied for rapist who sneaked into Del Mar homes

Robert Dean Rustad
(Courtesy California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

Robert Dean Rustad, 46, pleaded guilty in 1996 to several sexual assaults


A man who admitted breaking into Del Mar homes and sexually assaulting women in the mid-1990s lost his bid for parole Wednesday, Nov. 4.

After a hearing to weigh his suitability for release, parole officials denied Robert Dean Rustad’s request, and said he should not be up for consideration again for another five years.

“Justice was served today because the panel saw through that this inmate was not truthful about his true motivation for these crimes,” Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs said after the hearing.

Sachs said Rustad, now 46, has said his actions were driven by a desire for a girlfriend-type relationship.

“His motivation was clearly sadistic sexual pleasure, and his inability to accept that makes him an extreme threat to society,” Sachs said.

More coverage: A rapist who terrorized Del Mar got 326 years in prison. The law changed and now he’s up for parole

From 1993 to 1996, Rustad attacked seven women who were alone in their homes. Five were sexually assaulted, including two who were raped. Most were threatened at knifepoint and tied up. One was badly beaten.

Rustad pleaded guilty to three dozen crimes, including rape. He was sentenced to 326 years to life in prison.

But the law has changed since he went to prison. It now takes into account a person’s age at the time of their offense. Rustad was young — in his case, between the ages of 19 and 22 — when he committed the crimes, and thus qualified for a parole hearing.

Rustad’s attorney for the parole hearing said earlier this week that several factors weighed in favor of releasing his client, including his good behavior in custody. He said Rustad went into custody believing he would never qualify for release, yet stayed out of trouble for his entire incarceration of more than two decades, receiving no citations while in prison.

Attorney Jared Eisenstat also noted that doctors hired by the state to assess his client deemed him a low risk for reoffending if he were released.

— Teri Figueroa is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune