PROVO — A Facebook-organized group is planning events on a Provo trail where a jogger was attacked two weeks ago to send a message that they won't be victims.
Safety was top of mind for members of Take Back the Night Utah Valley as they met at the Orem City Library Wednesday night. They are planning a candlelight vigil and 5K run sometime in April to raise awareness of sexual assault.
"If everyone in the community reached out and did something, even little things to make Provo safer, the effect would be phenomenal," said Christa Baxter Drake, the group's organizer.
Drake created the group on Facebook after an attack on the Provo River Trail on Feb. 6. A woman was jogging alone along the stretch of the parkway about 9 p.m. when someone grabbed her, took her into the woods at knife point and raped her.
For many, that assault brings back memories of another brutal attack on the same trail in June 2010. A woman was walking alone when Shawn Leonard grabbed her, beat her with a rock, raped her and left her for dead. Leonard is now serving a life prison sentence.
Police say they're searching for the man in the recent attack. On Wednesday, officers posted fliers along the trail with safety tips, including: never walk alone, carry a whistle and have your phone readily available in case you need to call for help.
"We'd see people on that trail all night long, and they'd have their earphones in. They'd be running all along in the dark of night," said Provo Police Sgt. Matthew Siufanua.
The fliers also include a composite sketch of the attacker.
"We do need to look out for this person and catch him, because at any moment of time he could do it again," said LaKesha Taylor, who lives across the street from the trail.
Taylor thinks she saw the man a few days before the assault. She told police about it and gave them a description.
"He had his hood over his head, and he had his hands in his pockets. He didn't look at me once, but he could tell I was staring at him," Taylor recalled.
She hopes the man is caught, as do the members of Take Back the Night Utah Valley. They want to feel safe again.
"Everyone in Provo deserves to feel safe at night," Drake said.
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