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15-year-old St. Petersburg girl sexually assaulted along secluded footpath

ST. PETERSBURG — Police are seeking a man they said grabbed a 15-year-old girl off her skateboard and sexually assaulted her on a secluded footpath Tuesday afternoon.

The girl, who had just gotten off a bus at the PSTA stop near the 4600 block of 34th Street S, was riding her skateboard on a pedestrian foot path that runs under Interstate 275, police said.

As she approached 31st Street, police said, an unidentified man grabbed the teenager from behind, dragged her to the ground and sexually assaulted her.

About half an hour passed before the man released the girl, police said.

The man was last seen riding a bicycle west along the footpath toward 34th Street.

Afterward, the girl ran to an apartment building near 31st Street S and knocked on a door until residents allowed her in to call 911, police said.

"They were a little reluctant at first, but when they looked out and saw how upset she was, they let her in and called police," police spokesman Mike Puetz said.

The teenager, whose knees were scraped up during the attack, was not hospitalized.

It was not immediately clear if the man had followed the girl or was waiting under the overpass, Puetz said.

The girl, who was wearing earbud headphones at the time of the attack, did not hear anyone come up behind her, Puetz said.

Police described the man as black, medium build, in his 20s, under 6-feet, weighing 160 to 170 pounds with short hair and a goatee.

He wore a white tank top and black gym shorts at the time of the attack, officials said. Police described the bicycle he was riding as a "dark colored mountain bike."

The footpath runs under two overpasses of Interstate 275 between a residential area and businesses, the closest of which is Pizza Hut near the intersection of 46th Avenue S and 34th Street S.

"It does not appear to be a well travelled area," Puetz said. "That particular area, where she was attacked, is probably the most secluded part."

The girl was coming from school when she was attacked, said police spokesman Bill Proffitt, noting walking that path was likely part of her "regular routine."

Police asked anyone with information about the suspect or anyone who frequents the area to call detectives at 727-893-7780 or the Tip Line at 727-892-5000.

15-year-old St. Petersburg girl sexually assaulted along secluded footpath 09/21/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 4:01pm]
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