Three girls accosted by man in Turlock, police warn

03/25/2014 12:25 PM

03/26/2014 9:20 AM

UPDATE, 9:15 a.m. WEDNESDAY: School officials and police continue to look for a man suspected of groping three teenage girls near local schools this week. No further incidents have been reported, authorities said.

On Wednesday morning, Turlock Unified School District issued the following statement:

"TUSD continues to work collaboratively with the Turlock Police Department (TPD) to ensure the safety of our students. As of this morning, all students have arrived safely to their respective campus with no further reports of similar incidents that occurred late Monday afternoon and early Tuesday morning. Heightened presence and visibility of staff and TPD will continue around our campuses."

School officials issued a warning Tuesday after a man reportedly accosted three girls over a two-day period.

The man, described as being in his mid-20s, approached each girl separately in incidents that occurred near Pitman High and Turlock Junior High on Monday and Tuesday.

The first occurred about 3:50 p.m. Monday as a 16-year-old girl was walking home from Pitman. She was headed east on West Christoffersen Parkway when the man approached her from the opposite direction and touched her inappropriately, Turlock police officer Mayra Lewis said.

The girl ran into nearby All Saints Catholic Church and told a staff member, who contacted authorities.

Tuesday morning, two attacks occurred, one right after the other, Lewis said. The first happened about 7:20 a.m. to a 14-year-old walking on Walnut Road on her way to Turlock Junior High School. Again, the man was walking in the opposite direction and touched the girl, who ran to school and informed a counselor.

Authorities believe the man was leaving that encounter when he came into contact with a third girl, whose arm he grabbed. That girl, 13, also ran to school and informed staff.

None of the girls was injured, and all were in school Tuesday, authorities said.

Turlock Unified and other schools issued robocalls to parents, letting them know of the incidents.

The man was described as white, in his mid-20s, 5-feet-5-inches to 5-feet-10-inches tall, 150 to 170 pounds, with light brown or reddish hair and scruffy facial hair. In Monday’s incident, he was wearing blue jeans and a gray hooded sweatshirt; Tuesday, he was wearing tan pants, a dark sweatshirt and sunglasses.

Police were out in force near both campuses as school let out Tuesday afternoon. Officers in patrol cars and on motorcycles were seen driving in the area and talking with several people.

Lewis said police wanted to remind parents and students to take care getting to and from school. “Don’t walk alone,” she said. “Plan a safe route to school. If someone follows you, run and yell for help and tell an adult.”

Lewis said police plan to continue to work with the school district “to come to a resolution on this. We want our kids to feel safe walking to school.”

Police advised anyone who sees anybody suspicious to call the nonemergency dispatch number at (209) 668-1200. Anyone who sees any kind of assault or threatening act should call 911.

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