An Atascadero business owner accused of sexually assaulting multiple women was arrested Thursday on suspicion of sex crimes, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.
Nathaniel “Nate” Abate, owner of Cardinal Barbershop in Atascadero, has been charged with oral sex with a person under 18 and drug-related rape, both felonies, the district attorney’s office said in a news release Thursday.
The alleged crimes took place against two different victims between August 2008 and December 2010, the agency said.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Abate and Julian Contreras, the former owner of Kin Coffee in downtown San Luis Obispo, in April 2022 after several criminal allegations surfaced on social media.
So far, only Abate has been charged. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has obtained an arrest warrant for Contreras and detectives are actively trying to locate him, the sheriff said in a news release.
Former San Luis Obispo resident Ash Riddell started the local #MeToo movement in April when she accused Abate and Contreras of assaulting her.
Since then, more than 30 women have come forward on social media with similar stories of being sexually assaulted or harassed by the two men sometime between 2008 and 2021.
In August, the SLO Police Department told the Tribune that the agency’s investigation was inactive because most of the reported incidents occurred outside of its jurisdiction. Those that occurred within the agency’s jurisdiction did not have enough evidence to prosecute, the department said.
The sheriff’s office sent its investigation to the district attorney’s office in early December, recommending charges against both men based on allegations by six women.
Abate was being held at the San Luis Obispo County Jail Thursday afternoon in lieu of $500,000 bail.
He is scheduled to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Department 3 of San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
This story was originally published January 19, 2023 4:36 p.m.