A suspect is still on the loose after forcing a woman to the ground and disrobing her across the street from UCF Wednesday morning, Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.
Video by Katrina Poggio, Danielle Apolinar and Jake Rakoci.
A resident on Socrates Drive called 911 around 1:23 a.m. after hearing the woman screaming for help, deputies said.
When deputies arrived, they said the 20-year-old woman was walking around the area crying and was uninjured. She told deputies she was approached by a man who grabbed her and forced her to the ground. He then partially disrobed her and exposed himself while holding her down, deputies said.
She cried for help and the unidentified suspect fled and has not been found by deputies.
The man is described as having close-cut brown hair and a well-groomed beard. He is approximately 6′ tall with a thin build and is anywhere from 20-30 years old, deputies said. The man was last seen wearing a dark colored shirt, blue jeans and sneakers.
Orange County deputies are asking for help identifying the suspect and are offering a reward of up to $1,000.
The 911 caller, who asked to keep his identity private as a safety precaution, explained that he heard screaming outside his home so he peered through his blinds and thought something was suspicious. Feeling guilty that he did not have a way to protect the victim, the resident called 911.
“In the end she was not raped, fortunately,” he said.
The incident took place across the street from the University of Central Florida, however, students did not receive the usual UCF alert about the crime.
“Although we are not required to send alerts about such off-campus crimes, we routinely do so as part of our commitment to help keep students safe,” UCF spokesperson Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala said. “An alert should have been sent last night given the nature of this crime. We continue to work with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to ensure students are notified about off-campus crimes in a timely manner.”
A neighborhood resident and UCF student, Danny Beebe expressed his concern after the incident.
“Knowing that all of this is taking place right next to the school is pretty horrifying,” Beebe said.
Beebe said he thinks the college students in the area are vulnerable and the lack of lighting in what students refer to as the “greek ghetto” makes matters worse.
Both the 911 caller and Beebe said they think more lighting on their dark streets would bring down the crime rate.
“There’s a lot of dark areas,” Beebe said. “There’s a lot of students walking back in forth in this neighborhood and the streets are just not really safe.”
Orange County spokeswoman Lourdes Clayton wouldn’t comment if the woman is a student at UCF because of the sensitive nature of the case. She said deputies are continuing to investigate the case and want to keep the woman’s identity private while the investigation continues.
If you have any information on this crime, call Crime Line at 407-423-8477.
Christal Hayes contributed to this story.
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