SUNSET PARK — Santa Monica police Friday night were looking for a man who was clad in a full wetsuit when he sexually assaulted a Santa Monica College student as she walked to her car, which was parked in a quiet neighborhood just blocks from the college.
The woman, who was exercising at the college’s track Wednesday night, was walking around 10 p.m. Wednesday in the 1300 block of Pearl Street in the Sunset Park neighborhood when a man ran up from behind her, the Santa Monica Police Department said.
The attacker struck the woman, knocked her to the ground and held her there while he “digitally penetrated” her, according to police. He fled eastbound on Pearl Street.
The man appeared to be wearing a one-piece black wetsuit that covered him from his neck to ankles. He is described as white, 25 to 30 years old, and about 5 feet 10 inches tall. He weighs about 150 pounds and has blue or green eyes with short, curly blond hair, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at (310) 458-8950 or (310) 458-8460. Anonymous tips can be left at (800) 782-7463. If the information leads to an arrest, the tipster is eligible to receive a reward up to $1,000.
SMC police Sgt. Jere Romano said the SMPD was handling the investigation because the crime took place off campus. He reminded students during the summer session to be diligent and remain aware of their surroundings at all times.
“Don’t walk alone at night,” he said. “Always walk with a friend and if you believe you are being followed, go to a well-lit area like a convenience store or a gas station and always keep your cell phone in your hand when you are walking.”
Romano said students can also call a college-run escort service if they need a ride off campus. He said students should program the SMC police dispatch number — (310) 434-4300 — into their cell phones, along with the Santa Monica Police Department’s dispatch line so they can reach someone local immediately instead of being re-routed through 911.
“Don’t be afraid to scream out,” he added. “I know it can be a dramatic, shocking situation, but you have to make noise to get people’s attention.”
Romano said he lives in the neighborhood where the attack took pace.
“It’s really a quiet area,” he said. “If we would have heard someone screaming, we would have come running.”