15-year-old fights back, escapes assault on way to school, police say

Published: Friday, Feb. 14 2014 11:50 a.m. MST

Police are looking for a man who they say assaulted a 15-year-old girl Thursday.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Police are looking for a man who they say assaulted a 15-year-old girl Thursday.

The girl was walking to school, heading north along 900 West in Salt Lake City. Near 400 North, she perceived that someone was following her and began to pick up her pace, said Salt Lake police detective Dennis McGowan. The girl headed west at 600 North and the man continued to follow her.

About 6:40 a.m., the girl turned into the parking lot between Smith's Food and Drug, 1174 W. 600 North, and the Smith's gas station. She started running from the man, who grabbed her from behind and dragged her down into the mud, McGowan said.

The man had his arm around the girl's neck and covered her mouth as he attempted to sexually assault her, according to police.

The girl fought back, screamed and was able to escape without injury, McGowan said.

"That's what we encourage people to do under these circumstances," he said. "Make a big fuss, fight back hard and don't give up. She did all that and was not injured, fortunately."

Police described the man as Hispanic, in his 30s, about 6 feet 2 inches tall with a thin build and wide face. He had a mustache, beard growth, acne and was wearing a black hoodie, a red beanie and black cloth gloves.

"We're asking for anyone who may have seen this, perhaps not realizing what was going on, to come forward and let us know what they saw," McGowan said.

The detective also encouraged pedestrians to be aware while they travel.

"Everyone needs to be alert to their surroundings," he said. "Keep your head on a swivel, keep looking around and always have an escape plan."

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com

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