Portland police say they are investigating a report that a woman was sexually assaulted in broad daylight Wednesday while walking on one of the city’s most heavily traveled recreation paths.

Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch said in a news release late Wednesday night that the 34-year-old woman was walking near the Back Cove Trail’s half-mile marker, behind the soccer field adjacent to Interstate 295, around 12:15 p.m. when a man grabbed her and dragged her off the path into an area of high grass and brush.

The woman said the man sexually assaulted her before running away when two passers-by noticed something and asked if everything was all right, Malloch said. The woman drove herself to a local hospital, where she notified police.

Portland officers and a police dog spent Wednesday afternoon and evening collecting evidence from the scene.

Malloch said the suspect has been described as white, in his late 20s or early 30s, with dark hair and a goatee. He is 6-foot-1 to 6-foot-3, with an average build. He was wearing shiny orange shorts and a dark tank top shirt. Police said he did not have any visible tattoos.

Police have not released a sketch of the suspect.

The 3.5-mile Back Cove Trail, used by pedestrians, dog walkers, runners and cyclists, circles Back Cove and crosses Tukey’s Bridge, passing by Preble Street Extension and Payson Park.

Malloch said Portland police plan to increase patrols on the roads around the trail and add bicycle patrols on the trail. They are reminding the public to carry cellphones and report any suspicious activity.

They are advising people to walk in groups if possible, be aware of the surroundings and, if confronted by a suspicious person, be as vocal as possible to draw attention.

Police are asking anyone who may have seen the incident, or know of a person matching the suspect’s description, to contact them at 874-8575.

Anonymous tips can be left on the department’s crime tip line, 874-8584. Mobile phone users can text the keyword “Gotcha” plus their message to 274637 (CRIMES).


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