A woman who says she was sexually abused on a main street in northern Melbourne says she is demonstrating to protect other women from the “calculated and deliberate” attack.
The police are asking for public help to identify their alleged perpetrator and asked people to report any similar incidents in the Brunswick area.
Sarah *, 30, was on her way to find a friend for her regular Sunday morning exercise around 6:20 am on February 7.
“We are going to walk or run every Sunday morning. And we like to go very early before it gets crowded, ”she said.
She was walking down Sydney Road, Brunswick’s busy main street, when she noticed a man wearing a sweatshirt and face mask beside her at an intersection near Albert Street.
The man walked so close to Sarah as she continued on Sydney Road that she said, “I could have touched him.”
“And I was trying to walk faster, to get away from him, obviously. And looking ahead. I didn’t want to look at him and get involved with him,” she said.
“And then, at some point, I really stood in front of him. And I remember feeling quite relieved, because I thought I lost him and he lost interest.
“And this is the moment when he came up behind and attacked me.”
Sarah said the man remained completely silent the entire time. She yelled at him and he went walking down Merri Street, nearby.
Investigators now believe the man was following Sarah for at least a kilometer before attacking her.
‘I refuse to change the way I live my life’
Senior police detective Diane Jeffries said investigators believed it was a “targeted attack”.
“He struggled to hide. He was seen distancing himself from the victim,” she said.
“And it is a blatant attack on a busy Melbourne street.”
Sarah said she was speaking out now “because it seems calculated and deliberate”.
“For me, it either happened to someone else, or it will happen at some point, and I’m not okay with that.”
Melbourne’s Brunswick suburb has been the site of several high-profile attacks on women in recent years.
Sarah said she continued to meet her friend on Sunday mornings for exercise.
“I’m still going because I refuse to change the way I live my life,” she said.
“But I ride a bike.”
Man remained in the area after the attack
The police released CCTV footage of a man they believe could help them in their investigations.
The Caucasian man, presumably in his 30s, is about 170 centimeters tall, with light brown hair cut to a brush and a thin line receding.
At the time of the attack, he was wearing a red Nike sweatshirt and a light blue surgical mask.
Senior police officer Jeffries said the man was believed to reside in the Brunswick area.
He stayed in the area for at least half an hour after the attack before being seen on CCTV heading back in the direction he came from.
“And this is also worrying, he stayed in the area where the crime occurred,” she said.
Senior police officer Jeffries said there had been no other reports of similar incidents, but detectives are calling for anyone who has been the victim of an attack to speak up.
“It is extremely worrying,” she said.
“Anyone, male or female, should be able to walk the streets of Melbourne without being approached by someone like that.”
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers.
- Sarah received a pseudonym from the police to protect her identity