By Stacy Kess
The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office has a suspect in custody for a sexual assault reported Friday at Highbanks Metro Park.
A juvenile female was assaulted around 12:30 pm at the park in Lewis Center.
“This incident is in no way related to the Aug. 5 sexual assault of an 18-year-old male,” said Sheriff Russ Martin. “Even though these two incidents would appear related due to proximity of time and location, based on several factors we are positive they are not connected.”
Martin released a statement commending the park ranger who responded to suspicious activity by detaining the suspect, assisting the victim and notifying the DCSO.
The 57-year-old suspect, whose name has not yet been released, is in custody in the Delaware County Jail awaiting charges. The victim was taken to the hospital with no serious physical injuries reported.
Investigation of the rape and assault on Aug. 5 is ongoing, and a suspect has not been identified in that case. The suspect in the Aug. 5 case is described as a middle-aged male, 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 170 pounds. He has salt-and-pepper hair and a goatee with graying hair. The victim told deputies the suspect has a slight accent and is of Indian descent. He was wearing a white t-shirt with black vertical stripes and black running shorts, and appeared to be familiar with the trails and park.
DCSO stressed that these two assaults are isolated events, where today’s incident resulted in the immediate apprehension of the suspect.
DCSO spokesperson Tracy Whited told The Gazette after the Aug. 5 incident that “this certainly is a great reminder for people to practice some simple safety tips when hiking or jogging. When possible, go in pairs; be cognizant of your surroundings; have a cell phone with you and easily accessible; and if using headphones, only have one earplug in so you can hear around you.”
Whited encouraged the public to call the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office at 740-833-2800 if anyone recognized or has seen the suspect from the assault on Aug. 5.