New details are coming to light in the disturbing case of Akal Allen – the man with the “hundred page rap sheet” who has attacked and abused San Franciscans for years, and who last month violently assaulted a female FBI employee as she walked home from work.
An examination of court documents has revealed a catalog of leniency shown to Allen, with one incident in particular illustrating how the criminal justice system in San Francisco contrived to mollycoddle the offender, short-change the victims, and leave vulnerable city residents at continued risk.
In May 2019 Allen was charged with nine felony sex crimes after walking in to a laundromat, stripping, masturbating in front of a series of women doing their laundry, including one folding clothes with her child, and then rubbing his erect penis on the buttocks of another woman before she could escape.
It remains unclear why a man identified at the time of that arrest as an incorrigible danger to women – whose crimes the court was told warranted decades in prison and sex offender registration, and who had served jail time in other jurisdictions for violent sex offenses – was nevertheless allowed to plead guilty to two misdemeanors, serve less than nine months in custody and be free to commit further offenses, which he then did.
On May 11 2019 police were called to a laundromat at 1029 Larkin Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.
Akal Allen had entered the establishment and approached a woman – described as an “older lady” – folding her laundry. He told her “I would like to have sex with you” and “I really like you” before pulling up his shirt, unzipping his pants, exposing his erect penis and masturbating.
Allen then approached another woman, who was folding laundry with her son, and masturbated in front of her. He chased a third woman, who was drying clothes, and rubbed his erect penis on her buttocks before she was able to escape.
“I pulled my dick out, yeah, that ain’t a crime,” Allen explained to police officers who arrived on the scene and arrested him nearby.
Allen was charged with nine felonies: one count of sexual battery, three counts of assault with intent to commit mayhem, rape, sodomy, or oral copulation, and five counts of indecent exposure.
“The defendant has no regard for the safety of others or the supervision of the Court and is engaging in increasingly dangerous and lewd behavior,” Assistant District Attorney Lailah Morris told the court four days after his arrest in a ‘motion to detain’.
“He pled guilty and was released just last week and immediately went out and committed another, more serious crime. He acted brazenly and without regard to the wishes of the women he approached and came after and made his sexual intent more than abundantly clear.
“Under these circumstances, clear and convincing evidence shows that there would be a substantial likelihood that Defendant’s release would result in great bodily harm to others.”
The court was told that Allen’s maximum exposure was a 23 year term of imprisonment and mandatory registration as a sex offender. He was ordered held in custody.
Over the next month, and notwithstanding their previous accurate assessment of Allen’s offenses and level of dangerousness, the posture of the District Attorney’s office – then under the leadership of George Gascon – changed.
On June 17 2019 Allen was allowed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure. The rest of the charges were dismissed.
Judge Braden Woods sentenced Allen to six months in county jail for the indecent exposures. He also sentenced him to one year in county jail for violating his probation conditions when committing the offenses. Both sentences were eligible for ‘half time credits’ meaning Allen would serve fifty percent of this sentence in custody and he was given credit for the 38 days he had already spent in jail.
In what might be seen as an unsurprising turn of events, Allen began picking up arrests again in 2020: in Oakland in November 2020 for assault with a deadly weapon and in San Francisco in June 2022, for assault with a deadly weapon, and December 2022 for assault and battery.
Attempts to obtain details of the June 2022 case were stymied by court records having been sealed under the provisions of California Penal Code 850.90, which permits a judge to seal a case if a defendant completes a ‘deferred entry of judgment’ program or a ‘drug diversion’ program.
San Francisco prosecutors were aware that Allen’s rap sheet included crimes not only in the city, but also in Solano county, dating back as far as the turn of the millennium, which included terms of imprisonment.
In June 2011 Allen was charged in Solano county with six felonies after he repeatedly sexually assaulted a developmentally disabled 21 year old woman who the District Attorney said had “the mentality of a child.”
He met his victim on the street, led her to an abandoned house in Vallejo and had sex with her three times.
“[The victim] did not want it to happen, was unable to push the larger defendant away from her, was choked severely during the incident and was in pain in both her anus and the vagina afterwards,” deputy district attorney Andrew Ganz wrote.
“At some point…the defendant punched [her].”
Allen ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of ‘unlawful sexual intercourse’ and was sentenced to a “low term” two years imprisonment. He received credit for time served of 240 days and an additional 120 days “half time” credit.
And in February 2003 he pleaded ‘no contest’ to a felony count of ‘inflicting cruel or inhuman punishment on a child in June 2001. He was sentenced to a notional four years imprisonment, but by early 2005 he had already picked up more arrests.
In 2014 Allen broke in to an Alamo Square home where two girls, age 12 and 14, were alone. The 14 year old encountered Allen in the family bathroom and was asked by him to come inside. She and her younger sister retreated to a room with a lock and immediately called her mom and the police.
Allen pleaded ‘no contest’ to one misdemeanor count of aggravated trespass and guilty to one felony count of ‘resisting an executive officer’. A felony burglary charge was dismissed. Judge Ethan Schulman sentenced him to 44 days time served and put him on probation for three years.
Allen’s latest incident of serious violence came in early June 2023.
According to an affidavit supplied to the court, Allen approached a woman on the early evening of Friday June 8 2023 and “without provocation” punched her in the face, immediately breaking her nose.
He struck her one more time before fleeing, later attacking other pedestrians.
The victim – a crisis management specialist working for the FBI’s counter terrorism branch – had left the Phillip Burton Federal Building at 6:35pm and begun walking west on Turk Street and then north on Polk Street.
Video footage showed Allen leaving his residence on O’Farrell Street at about the same time. Moments later he happened across the victim on Polk Street, blocking her way and yelling angrily at her. The woman attempted to step around Allen only for him to step in front of her again and launch the assault.
Passers-by came to the victim’s aid and she was transported to an emergency department nearby. One week later she was rushed back to the ER suffering from partial facial paralysis, jaw-tightening, and being unable to keep her eyes open – later diagnosed as post-concussion syndrome due to the assault.
After the attack, Allen continued walking and was later seen attempting to attack a man who was able to escape. As he walked he yelled at passers-by. He threatened to assault a witness (calling her a “bitch”) and threw a rock at both her and another witness.
Because the federal prosecutors argue that the woman was ‘on call’ at the time of the attack, they have charged Allen with ‘assault on a federal officer or employee’. He faces between 46-57 months’ imprisonment if convicted.
Allen’s behavior prompted U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim – by no means a ‘hanging judge’ – to order him to be detained. The reasons she gave for holding Allen in custody mirrored those Assistant District Attorney Lailah Morris prophetically gave in San Francisco Superior Court in 2019.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a criminal history as long as this, often directed towards strangers, often directed towards women,” Kim said.
“Mr Allen’s history of criminal violence is so long and escalating in nature. I do not feel comfortable releasing Mr Allen based on risk alone.”
On hearing that he was to be detained, the 5’9″ defendant, dwarfed by the U.S. Marshal standing beside him, began loudly addressing the courtroom: “She’s terrified! She’s terrified!” he said, referring to the judge. “You may as well sentence me to life now.”
Allen, 48, will appear in court again next week before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria for a status hearing. He remains in federal custody in Santa Rita Jail.
It seems that, with this incident involving a victim who is a federal employee, and the consequent involvement of federal law enforcement, there might be a greater measure of justice in this instance than that afforded to many of Allen’s other victims over the years.
San Franciscans might therefore benefit from a longer period of protection while Allen is incapacitated in prison than has previously been the case.
San Francisco Police Department refused a request to provide a booking photo from any of Mr Allen’s previous arrests, citing a department policy not to release photos.
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