Serial molestor still loose in Berkeley

February 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Police Monday released a composite sketch of a man who has young women around the UC Berkeley campus gripped in fear. A serial molester there is still on the loose.SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you

There have been 16 attacks on young women near the UC Berkeley campus since September and until now, hardly any clues about the man linked to the crime. Police planned to take a sketch to sororities Monday night.

They say the suspect is a white man in his twenties, about 5'10" tall, 160 pounds, with a medium build and dark, wavy hair.

"Nobody until this point has actually gotten a good look at his face," said Berkeley Police Officer Andrew Frankel.

Frankel says the predator is brazen.

"It's a heinous crime. Some media outlets have characterized it as a 'grope.' It's much more serious than that," he said.

The suspect targets women late at night, many as they walk home from fraternity and sorority parties just south of the campus. They are usually alone or with a friend, and all the victims were wearing skirts. He sneaks up, lifts their skirts and molests them.

It happened again last Friday.

The most recent attack resembled many of the others. The victim was walking alone on Haste Street near the campus. The man came up behind her and tried to grab her dress. Only this time, two witnesses got a good look at him.

"It's kind of disconcerting that it's happening in groups of more than one girl. You know you always think, 'Safety in numbers,'" pointed out student Crystal Canales.

None of the attacks took place on campus but the university's police force is on high alert. A volunteer group of escorts, called the "Bear Walk" say it's getting more requests for late night escorts since the attacks occur between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

"Hopefully this will point us in the right direction and give us some leads where we can stop this person from doing this," said Lieutenant Doug Wing.

Some students complain they have not heard enough details from the university. Others say they now plan to wear pants.

"I don't go out late at night by myself, ever," student Jaiya Yu told ABC7.

"I guess from now on I'll just be wearing pants or leggings with my skirts," added Reena Flores.

Apparently, there are other victims out there. Through their efforts on Monday night, going door-to-door, police say they contacted three more. That's a total of 16 attacks.

Two witnesses of a recent assault helped put together the sketch of the suspect and police say it's already generating some leads.

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