Suspect sought in Merced sexual battery cases

MERCED, Calif.

A total of six attacks have been reported since March 2012 -- all in North Merced. With the exception of one nighttime assault, all have happened in the twilight, morning or daytime hours.

"What he's doing is he's actually grabbing the intimate parts of the female," said Capt. Tom Trinidad with the Merced Police Department. "He'll approach them, he'll try to engage them in conversation, and then he will grab a hold of them; sometimes they will go down to the ground.

The latest attack happened last week near the intersection of Loughborough Drive and R Street. Trinidad says a young woman's car broke down just before 6 a.m. on March 13, and she went looking for help. The suspect saw it as a crime of opportunity.

"She did have to fight him off," said Trinidad. "It's enough to where it's caused a concern for us, and of course, you can just imagine the trauma that the victims have gone through."

Police say the victims have all been female, mostly joggers, and police say they gave the same description of their attackers.

"An Asian male, about 20 to 25 years old, very small build. He's about 5'2" to 5'3", weighing anywhere from 120 to 125 pounds," said Trinidad.

Joe and Karen Hart, who live not too far from where the latest attack happened, weren't aware of it, but say it's a good reminder to be weary of suspicious strangers.

"It's going to keep me closer to my wife, and make sure that I'm with her whenever she's walking around," said Joe Hart.

"Be aware of your surroundings and maybe buddy up with somebody else; keep a cellphone on you," said Karen Hart.

Advice, police are emphasizing, until the suspect is caught and arrested.

Police say the suspect has also been associated with a silver car, possibly a Honda. They're asking for the public's help in catching him. Anyone with information about any of these cases is asked to call the Merced Police Department at (209) 385-4725.

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