News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Female Jogger Escapes from Sexual Assault Attempt
Contact : Zach Perron, Lieutenant, Police    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- Early this morning, a female jogger was able to free herself from a man who approached her from behind and bear-hugged her, grabbing her breast in the process and possibly trying to pull her down.  Police believe the suspect is likely the same person who has committed two recent sexual batteries in Palo Alto.

On Wednesday, September 19, 2012, at about 6:53 a.m., officers from the Palo Alto Police Department responded to the area of Palo Alto Avenue at Alma Street on a report of an assault that had just occurred.  The victim, a female in her 20s, was jogging southbound into Palo Alto from Menlo Park on the path through El Palo Alto Park at 102 Palo Alto Avenue.  An unknown male suspect approached her from behind, bear-hugged her, and grabbed one of her breasts.  The victim said she felt as though the suspect was trying to pull her down.  She screamed.  She was able to wriggle free from his grasp, and in the process, she fell to the ground.  The suspect immediately jogged away from her on the same path and headed southbound on the sidewalk of Alma Street.  The victim did not suffer any injuries.

The victim followed the suspect from a distance and used her cell phone to call the police.  She yelled after the suspect and told him she was notifying police.  She last saw the suspect jogging eastbound on Hawthorne Avenue from Alma Street.

Several officers and detectives from the Palo Alto Police Department responded to the area, as did a police canine unit from the Menlo Park Police Department.  Officers extensively checked the area with the police dog, but were unable to locate the suspect.

The victim described the suspect as possibly Middle Eastern or Hispanic, about 40 years of age.  He was about 5 feet 9 inches tall with a medium build.  The victim said he was dressed as though he too was out for a jog, as he was wearing a light gray long-sleeve shirt and dark gray or black running pants.  He had thin black hair.  As the victim was never able to see the details of the suspect's face, there is no sketch available for distribution.

This appears to be the third crime likely committed by the same suspect in Palo Alto in the past month.  On August 20, the suspect grabbed a woman’s buttocks in the 600 block of Fulton Street at about noon.  On August 29, the suspect grabbed a woman’s breast at the Stanford Shopping Center at about 12:13 p.m.  Sketches of the suspect from both of those cases have been previously released, and are available on our Facebook page at  

Investigators do not believe that a sexual battery that occurred on the Stanford University campus on September 12 is related to this series of incidents in Palo Alto, as the suspect description is different.

Detectives from the Palo Alto Police Department are actively investigating these incidents.  Any developments or any new suspect information will be released to the community in a timely manner.

"We are concerned about all of these events, but we are particularly concerned about this one, as it appears as though the suspect’s behavior may be escalating," said Lieutenant Zach Perron.  “We’re going to do everything we can to identify and apprehend him.  We ask for the public’s help with reporting suspicious behavior immediately to 9-1-1.”

While this has been the only case of a female jogger being targeted, we recommend that women jog in pairs or small groups whenever possible.  In every case, however, we strongly recommended that joggers not cover both ears with headphones, so as to be better aware of their surroundings and anyone who may be approaching them from behind.  We also recommend that joggers carry a cell phone with them, and stay in well-traveled areas whenever possible.

There are a number of good personal safety and crime prevention tips posted on the City of Palo Alto website.  Visit for more information.

We continue to recommend that you remain aware of your surroundings when out in public, and we encourage you to report suspicious behavior immediately via 9-1-1.  Anyone with information about this incident or the other recent sexual batteries is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.  Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.