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The Athens Police Department released a composite sketch of the suspect of three related sexual assault cases.

Serial sexual assault 'predator' linked to three incidents, Athens police say

The latest, from December, occurred when a woman was attacked while walking home for the night from Uptown.

After it was revealed in press conference Thursday that DNA evidence had linked three separate sexual assaults Uptown, Athens Police Department Chief Tom Pyle said his department is looking to bring that individual “to justice.”

“Clearly, the City of Athens has a predator amongst us, and that person needs to turn himself in, and he need not victimize another person in our community,” Pyle said.

According to a news release, APD is looking for “a white male in his late twenties to early thirties, 5-foot-8-inches to 5-foot-9-inches tall, and weighing approximately 160 pounds.”

According to Pyle, APD received results from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation that linked a Dec. 12 sexual assault to two others, one in June 2015 and the other in June 2006.

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn, Ohio University Police Department Chief Andrew Powers and Assistant Dean of Students for Campus Involvement Char Kopchick fielded questions from regional media at the conference.

Pyle said the Dec. 12 assault occurred when a woman was walking home alone from Uptown.

He wouldn’t comment on the exact location of the attack, but confirmed that all three occurred near the uptown area.

While Pyle declined to comment on whether the victims were Ohio University students, he did confirm all three were “college-aged,” between 18 and 21 years old.

“This news is deeply concerning to not just me, but to our entire Bobcat family and Athens community. My thoughts are with the survivors at this time,” OU President Roderick McDavis said in a statement to The Post Thursday evening. “The safety of our students, faculty and staff has always been, and will remain, our top priority.”

According to a news release APD sent after the conference, the June 20 incident reportedly occurred around 2 a.m. A woman was walking home alone from Uptown and a male attacked her from behind and attempted to sexually assault her, though he was “scared away” by others walking in the area.

In the 2006 attack, according to the release, a male followed a woman home from the uptown area, entered her home illegally, raped her and then fled the scene.

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Pyle requested that people around Uptown in the late evening hours of Dec. 11 or early morning hours of Dec. 12 come forward with any pictures or videos they may have taken in locations including Court Street, side streets, bars and restaurants.

“You know, in this day and age, a lot is being captured electronically and digitally, and I think we have a theory that our suspect may have been captured inadvertently on somebody’s phone or in a video,” Pyle said.

Pyle requested any evidence be sent tojmccall@ci.athens.oh.us.

Although the first attack allegedly happened nine years ago, the statute of limitations on sexual assault is 20 years, meaning the suspect can still be prosecuted for the crime, Blackburn said.

APD and OUPD will be coordinating “enhanced patrol efforts” late at night and early in the morning.

“Students should not be surprised if they see foot officers where they would not normally see foot officers,” Pyle said.

Additionally, Powers said, the CATS shuttle will be extending its hours and routes. The shuttle will transport patrons until 3:30 a.m. instead of 2 a.m., an extra driver will be added after 1 a.m. and the service will extend to reach two miles off campus.

Kopchick highlighted the university’s prevention strategies, including the university’s active bystander program as resources for students.

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“We will be doing many more programs on being an active bystander,” she said. “We all agree that we want our community to be a safe community.”

In response to a question about whether the university had any programs directed at males, Kopchick brought up the university’s “healthy masculinity” programs.

“We do have, actually, men talking to men on this subject, which is very important,” she said.

Pyle said OUPD, the Athens County Sheriff’s Office and BCI have already been collaborating in the investigation.

He said since he joined the department in 1989, he hadn’t been aware of any serial sexual assaults.

“That person needs to turn himself in,” Pyle said. “I can promise that … we will bring every resource … we have available to bring this person to justice.” 

@baileygallion

bg272614@ohio.edu

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