Saturday, June 10, 2000

Sawyer Point patrols beefed up after rape

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Authorities Friday said the rape of a 37-year-old woman in a Sawyer Point restroom this week was the first crime of this magnitude at the popular riverfront recreation spot.

        Police presence in the park will be increased.

        “For a total stranger to pick someone out in a downtown crowded park is almost unheard of in this town,” said Cincinnati Police Sgt. David Wuest. “We've just never seen this down there before.”

        The attack occurred Thursday as the victim was changing her clothes to play volleyball on the park's sand courts.

  Hours: 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.
  Cincinnati Private Police patrol the park from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m. Monday-Friday and noon-2 a.m. Saturday-Sunday.
  Cincinnati police will add patrols until further notice throughout the day in response to Thursday's attack.
        At 6 p.m., when recreation leagues were gearing up for the evening, a man in his mid-20s forced the woman back into the restroom. She fought her way to an escape, but not before being raped and beaten. She was treated for her injuries Thursday evening and released.

        Sgt. Wuest said police have no suspects, but were compiling a composite sketch of the man, who escaped on foot.

        Police Sgt. Marlis Herold said the site of the attack was isolated — the restroom faces the Ohio River under the Interstate 471 bridge.

        She said that women should be aware of their surroundings and have someone accompany them or make sure someone knows where they're headed.

        “Maybe this will get all women thinking about what's going on around them and keep everyone aware,” she said.

        Sawyer Point opened in 1987 and is used by about 3 million visitors a year. The mile-long park is the site of Riverfest, Kids' Fest, the National Black Family Reunion and the coming All-American Birthday Party.

        “We've had car break-ins and some drunk and disorderlies down there, but nothing like this,” Sgt. Herold said. “It has always been and should continue to be a safe place.”

        Cincinnati police will step up patrols through the park to augment security by the Cincinnati Private Police.

        Authorities encouraged the public to continue to use the park.

        “The more people down there, the safer it is,” Sgt. Wuest said. “We'd rather have extra patrols and heighten awareness than have this happen again.”


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