The Arlington Police Department is investigating four reports of young girls who were inappropriately touched by a man.
The four cases were all reported to have taken place in East Arlington in roughly the same area.
In each case, the girls, who ranged in age from 12 to 16, reported they were walking home in the afternoon or evening hours when they were approached from behind by a man who touched and groped them all over their clothes. Each of the victims were able to fight and escape the man, who fled on foot in each instance.
The most recent incident took place on Jan. 16 at about 6:30 p.m. along the 2300 block of Huntington Drive. Police said a 16-year-old girl was walking home from a park when a man walked up behind her, grabbed her and tried to shove his hands into her pants. The girl screamed, alerting neighbors, and the man ran away.
Larry Cope heard the girl's screams from inside his house and looked outside to investigate.
"I stuck my head out a little farther and that's when I saw her on her knees by my tree," Cope said. "Got over to her, asked her if she was OK. She says, 'No. Some guy tried to rape me.'"
- A 14-year-old girl was attacked on Dec. 10, 2013 on the 2200 block of E. Park Row Drive.
- A 12-year-old girl was attacked on Nov. 15, 2013 on the 800 block of E. Timberlake Drive.
- A 16-year-old girl was attacked on Jan. 2, 2014 on the 1800 block of E. Tucker Boulevard.
Police said descriptions of the man vary in each reported case, "aside from the man being depicted as a Hispanic male who either spoke Spanish or had a heavy accent." Despite the similar reports and geographic proximity of the attacks, investigators are not yet confirming that the cases are connected.
All of those locations are within just one block or two from an Arlington Independent School District elementary school.
Arlington ISD became aware of the attacks Wednesday evening, according to Leslie Johnston, the district's director of communications. The principals of the schools have since been alerted, Johnston told NBC 5, and students will be sent home with a letter to parents on Thursday.
Police hope that making the public aware of the reports will increase awareness and personal safety as the cases are investigated.
Public safety tips from the Arlington Police Department:
- Youngsters are encouraged to always walk in groups of two or more, especially after dark.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t allow mobile phones or other technology to become a distraction.
- If you are grabbed by a stranger, scream, fight and do anything possible to get away and draw attention to yourself.
"It's a problem because we're afraid that it would progress further in the future," said Sgt. Jeff Houston, with the Arlington Police Department. "We want the public to be aware."
Since the first reported incident, Arlington police officers have been actively investigating the reports.