Assaults on girls in St. John add up

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 17, 2009



LAPLACE – Sheriff’s detectives in St. John Parish are investigating a string of incidents involving girls who have told authorities that they were approached and assaulted by men as they walked home alone.

Three of the four cases in question involve school children that say they were confronted while walking to or from bus stops, which has school leaders looking into a review of where children are dropped off. The fourth case involves a 22-year-old woman who described a similar assault situation.

Capt. Dane Clement, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, said detectives are not yet certain whether all four cases are related but said there are similarities that indicate a link.

“The descriptions provided in the accounts all differ, but the motive seems the same,” Clement said. “We are not sure if the same person carried out all four assaults.”

In each of the cases, Clement said a lone man attempted to grab the victim as she walked alone in a secluded location. In each incident, the woman was able to pull away from the attacker and run to safety.

According to a release from the Sheriff’s Office, three of the incidents took place in Reserve and the fourth in LaPlace. All four occurred either in the early morning or late evening hours under some level of darkness.

The most recent incident occurred Nov. 11 when a 10-year-old Reserve girl was grabbed from behind as she walked home from the bus stop. A report from police said the girl was walking alone on East 26th Street around 5:30 p.m. when a man approached, grabbed her and covered her mouth. The girl was able to pull away and run home.

A day before that incident, a 12-year-old LaPlace girl told authorities as she stepped off a school bus at Carrollwood Drive, she saw a man watching and following her.

A report said as the victim began to run the man gave chase for a short distance before a bystander, who witnessed the incident, yelled at the man. The attacker then ran away.

On Oct. 30, a 15-year-old Reserve girl told deputies she was grabbed from behind and choked as she was walking to a bus stop near East 24th Street at 6:43 a.m.

The victim told investigators she yelled for help and the victim let her go and punched her. She was able to get away and run to safety. Clement said the girl was not seriously injured and refused medical attention.

The fourth incident occurred on Aug. 15, when a 22-year-old woman said a man grabbed her and tore her clothing as she walked along Northwest Second Street at about 1:15 a.m.

The victim told police she yelled for help, pushed away from the man’s grasp and ran away.

Although the descriptions and locations vary, Clement said investigators are considering the possibility the same suspect carried out all four incidents. He said the events leading up to the attacks were all the same. He also said none of the victims knew their attackers.

St. John Schools Superintendent Courtney Millet said she will be meeting with St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones this week to discuss the issue. She said the school system will be sending out a letter to all parents concerning the incidents and what can be done to prevent other attacks.

“We are going to be looking at bus routes and looking at stops to make sure they are all consistent,” Millet said. “We also want to make sure parents are mindful of their children’s schedules.”

Anyone who may have information on the incidents is asked to contact St. John Sheriff Detective Christie Murden at 985-652-6338.