A man has been charged by Victoria Police after allegedly “bearhugging” and sexually assaulting three women in separate attacks in Melbourne’s inner-east last weekend.
- The three women did not suffer serious physical injuries during the “very traumatic” assaults
- Police say it is possible the man attacked other women on the same night
- A suspect was caught on camera wearing a black jumper with ‘PNG’ written on it
The 21-year-old Richmond man presented himself to police this morning in relation to the incidents, which occurred in Richmond and Abbotsford in the early hours of Sunday.
He was due to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.
Police had earlier appealed for the public’s help to find the suspect, who is accused of assaulting the women aged between 28 and 36.
The first woman was attempting to open the front door to a home on Howard Street, Richmond, about 3:20am when a man bearhugged her, grabbing her buttocks and breast.
He fled when she screamed for help.
About 5:00am, another woman was walking along Church Street, Richmond, when she was bearhugged by a man who put his hand up her dress.
About 20 minutes later a woman walking along Grosvenor Street, Abbotsford, was approached by the same man.
The man seriously sexually assaulted the third victim, police said.
The victim screamed and a good Samaritan came to her aid and chased the offender away.
‘Waiting for his victim to appear’
The Sexual Crime Squad’s Detective Inspector Stephen Wilson said the victims did not suffer serious physical injuries but were distressed after the incidents.
“There’s no lasting injuries of such but obviously it’s a very traumatic experience for anybody that goes through this,” he said.
“It’s probably the last thing you expect as you’re going home in an evening or going about your business, so clearly [they were] shook up but thankfully nothing more.”
Inspector Wilson said the three incidents may not have been the man’s only attacks on the day.
“He would approach the victim from behind and grab them and that is the one connection,” he said.
“There’s some indication of him hanging around laneways, some sort of predatory behaviour there, almost waiting for his victim to appear.
“There is a variety of offending involved but one thing that certainly concerns us is that there is a clear instance of escalation throughout those three offences.
“It’s also not beyond the realms of possibility that these are not the only offences that occurred that night, so again if we have any people out there who have been assaulted by a similar person or if they have anything else to report to us we would be very interested to talk to those people too.”
Detectives have released still images and CCTV vision of a man wearing a black hooded jumper with ‘PNG’ written across the front.
Inspector Wilson said it could be an important factor in identifying the man.
“He has a very distinct top on and we believe that that may be an indicator to his background and we certainly ask anybody, particularly from the PNG community, who may be able to help us identify this person to contact us,” he said.