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17-year-old attacked, sexually assaulted walking to bus stop in Clearwater

7:00 PM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
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Clearwater, Florida - People living in the neighborhood near Whitney Drive and Whitney Road noticed people from the Sheriff's office poking around Tuesday morning.

"They were right over there, putting out markers and looking in the drain ditch for stuff," says resident Michelle Califf.

"Yeah, they came in both of our yards," added Lee Ann Gindhart, who lives across the street.

Both women are shocked to learn more about the crime: the Sheriff's Office says a 17-year-old girl was sexually assaulted as she walked to her school bus stop.

"That's a shame," Califf says with a gasp.

Gindhart says, "The thought that something like that would happen to a little young child of 17 is just really terrifying."

The suspect's description is quite vague: a black man, 25 to 30 years old, and wearing a black sweatshirt.

Two teenage boys from Pinellas Park High School say the victim rides their bus. James Fraim says the school resource officer there asked them if they'd noticed anything in the morning. 

"He asked us if we seen anybody hanging out at the bus benches, the PSTA buses, if we'd seen anybody sitting there this morning," said Fraim.

Investigators say the man grabbed the girl from behind and dragged her into a secluded area. After he left, the teen managed to make her way home for help. She was then taken to a hospital for treatment.

The Sheriff's Office will have extra patrols in the area Wednesday morning.

Residents are glad for that, but they'll feel better if the suspect is caught. It's something they want. 

"Yes I do," says Gindhart. "I'm praying for it."

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