Jogger attacked in Palm Harbor speaks out

5:46 PM, Oct 17, 2012   |    comments
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Palm Harbor, Florida -- There are some questions about timing as the search continues for a man who attacked and sexually groped a woman out for a run in her upscale Palm Harbor neighborhood.

Questions about why Pinellas County deputies released a composite of the suspect and went public with details of the case a full three weeks after the attack.

The issue was raised not just by reporters, but by the victim herself.

"I thought it might have been in the news right away just to warn people," said "Nancy" who spoke with 10 News about the September 26th attack.

Nancy is still shaken after a man -- estimated to be about 22-years-old -- grabbed her by the neck, threw her to the ground and groped her chest just a block from her Palm Harbor home.

She was on her way home from a night of long distance running.

Only now, she says, has her fear begun to subside.

"I still get anxious, and I get nervous when I go out in the dark," she says.

For now Nancy has been sticking to the treadmill and daytime jogs.

On the night of her attack, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who it turns out lives less than a block away, came to the scene.

Gualtieri says the incident quickly became common knowledge among local residents, but his deputies only released a composite of the suspect to the media and the general public on Tuesday.

The sheriff tried to explain the delay, saying a witness had been hard to coordinate with until late last week.

"We had to get the person in. We had trouble getting the person in. And if the person wouldn't come in for a variety of reasons - that just happens. We couldn't force it," he said.

Gualtieri says Nancy's case appears to be isolated. Nothing similar in their upscale Tarpon Woods neighborhood before or since.

"You know there's no pattern with this," said the sheriff, who also praised the victim for yelling for help, and a neighbor for coming to her rescue.

If there had been another attack he says they would have released more information sooner.

"If we saw or had a report of another incident it would be a different situation," he said.

Nancy says she just wants the person who shattered her sense of suburban security captured.

"I hope he gets caught, because I would like the neighborhood to get back to feeling safe again," she said, "It's just that lack of safety... that you don't feel safe anymore. That if it happens once, it can happen any time, because you don't anticipate it ever happening."

Detectives ask the public to remember that the picture they released is a composite based on a witness description. It is not a photograph.

If you think you know who it is, the sheriff's office wants to hear from you.

The suspect, again, around 22, was last seen wearing gray cargo shorts, black sneakers, no socks and no shirt.

If you have any information you're asked to contact detectives at (727) 582-6200. 

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