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3 girls and a woman have been grabbed near Aliso Viejo hiking trail, police say

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Investigators have released sketches of suspects in the four incidents.
(Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

Orange County investigators are trying to determine whether four recent attacks in which young girls and a woman have been grabbed near an Aliso Viejo hiking trail are related.

Last week, two girls reported they were groped near their schools in Aliso Viejo. The day after the Orange County Sheriff’s Department released two sketches of possible suspects in those incidents, a third child reported that a man had grabbed her and tried to drag her toward bushes near the popular Aliso Creek Hiking Trail before she escaped. On Tuesday, a 28-year-old woman reported a similar incident along the same trail, which borders Aliso Viejo and Laguna Hills.

Investigators have released an additional sketch and are asking for the public’s help with identification of the suspect, or suspects. No arrests have been made.

“We’ve been pursuing multiple leads through tips and multiple avenues,” Sgt. Joses Walehwa said.

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The first incident was reported Sept. 12, when a 12-year-old girl said she was touched by a man while walking to Aliso Viejo Middle School at about 9 a.m.. She said the man fled after she yelled at him.

On Sept. 17, a 16-year-old girl said she was walking home at about 4 p.m. from Aliso Niguel High School along the Aliso Creek Hiking Trail — roughly three miles from the middle school — when a man pulled on her skirt. The teen said she slapped the man’s hand and ran home.

The following day, at roughly 6:30 p.m., an 11-year-old girl was walking her dog along the same trail when, she said, a man grabbed her and started to pull her toward some brush. The girl screamed, and the man released her and fled, authorities said.

On Tuesday, a 28-year-old woman said she was walking along the trail at about 8:45 a.m. when she heard someone jogging up behind her. A man grabbed her by the elbow and pulled her toward him, she said. The woman said she head-butted her attacker, prompting him to run away.

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In the first incident, the schoolgirl described the man who accosted her as being in his early 30s with dirty blond hair and a goatee. He was wearing sunglasses and dressed completely in black.

In the second attack, the suspect was described as 30 to 40 years old, about 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds with short black hair. He also wore sunglasses and was dressed in a black collared shirt and tan cargo pants.

The third girl described the man who grabbed her as having short dark hair and wearing a red Angels sweatshirt, blue jeans and black shoes.

The woman in the fourth attack described her assailant as about 5-foot-10 with medium-length dark brown hair. She was unable to provide enough details of his face for a sketch but said he was wearing a black sweatshirt with a large colored logo on the back and jeans.

A task force has been formed to investigate the incidents. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at (714) 647-7000.


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