FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ (Somerset County) – Police continue to search for a suspect who they say attempted to sexually assault a woman while she was running along a Somerset County park trail, according to Somerset County Acting Prosecutor Annmarie Taggart.
On Monday, May 16, at around 6:03 p.m., Franklin Township Police responded to a 9-1-1 call reporting a sexual assault on a park trail located near Blackwells Mills Road and Canal Road, Taggart said.
Upon arrival, officers met with an adult female victim, who reported being assaulted by an unknown male while she was running on the trail. Franklin Township Police along with several police agencies proceeded to establish a perimeter in an attempt to locate the suspect, Taggart said.
Detectives from the Franklin Township Police Department along with detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit, Sex Crimes Unit, Crime Scene Investigations Unit and New Jersey State Park Police responded to conduct the investigation, Taggart said.
The victim reported to authorities that the unknown male got off of his bicycle and tackled her to the ground when she was running on a trail. The female fought with the male as he attempted to sexually assault her. The victim was able to fight her attacker and escape from the assault, immediately notifying authorities by dialing 9-1-1, Taggart said.
The victim described the suspect as a Hispanic male, approximately 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 7 inches, heavier build, approximately mid 30’s, wearing black pants or shorts, a green hoodie, and a blue gator face covering. The suspect is said to have fled the area on a bicycle, Taggart said.
The victim was transported to an area hospital for treatment and released, Taggart said.
Detectives are attempting to determine if the suspect involved in this recent incident is the same actor involved in previously reported attacks in Somerset and Middlesex Counties, Taggart said.
On May 17, a forensic artist assigned to the New Jersey State Police Forensic Imaging Unit responded to assist in the investigation. A composite sketch of the alleged suspect was generated and is being released in an effort to generate leads. The public is urged not to confront the suspect if he is known to them and to notify the proper authorities, Taggart said.
Anyone with information relating to the sexual assault to contact the Somerset County Prosecutors Office Sex Crimes Unit at 908-231-7100 or the Franklin Township Police Department at 908-873-5533 or via the STOPit app. The STOPit app allows citizens to provide anonymous reports including videos and photos. STOPit can be downloaded to your smart phone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: SOMERSETNJ. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477). All anonymous STOPit reports and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.