Woman attacked in Old Town | ParkRecord.com

Woman attacked in Old Town

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Two men sexually assaulted a woman as she walked by herself late at night in Old Town during the Sundance Film Festival, the Park City Police Department says, a rare attack in a city where people walk by themselves at all hours without worries.

Making the case more disturbing, the police say that the men likely stalked the woman and then ran her down as she tried to get away, an unusual circumstance in the city. Sexual assaults in Park City typically do not occur in that fashion and violent street crimes in the city almost never happen.

It is a case that also is likely upsetting to people who organized the film festival, both at Sundance and City Hall, who designed an ambitious program in 2007 to encourage more people to walk between Sundance venues as a means to reduce traffic. The attack occurred in a field on the north side of the Park City Library and Education Center, a building where festival films were shown, but after the theater closed for the night.

The police are investigating but admit that they have few leads as they search for the two suspects. One suspect is described as 5 feet, 11 inches tall and 200 pounds. He is in his 20s, has dark hair and wore a black jacket and a dark beanie. He appeared to be Latino or Italian. The other suspect is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 170 pounds. He is in his 20s, was wearing a green coat and also appeared to be Latino or Italian.

The woman was not injured and did not suffer marks on her body, Park City police Lt. Rick Ryan says. She is 25 years old and was visiting for Sundance from Florida. She did not recognize the men, he says.

"It looks like they picked her out, targeted her as a victim, followed her until she was by herself and chased her down," Ryan says.

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According to the police, the woman believes that her attackers followed her from Cisero’s, a Main Street nightclub. The police report that the attack occurred at about 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 24 and the department was informed of the case later that morning, at 10:12 a.m.

Ryan says she was with friends at the nightclub. Her friends left to go to a party but the woman wanted to return to the Old Town condominium where she was staying. Ryan says she walked by herself north, which is downhill, on Main Street and turned onto Park Avenue, where she continued north.

He says the woman noticed two men following her about 20 feet behind. There were still crowds around, Ryan says, but, at the library, she cut through the parking lot and the field.

"She started walking fast, trying to distance herself," Ryan says.

The two kept pace as she ran and caught her, the lieutenant says. One of the suspects grabbed her by the shoulder, threw her to the ground, climbed on top of her and lifted up her shirt, Ryan says. The other suspect held her left hand down, he says.

The woman kneed the first suspect in the groin. He rolled over. The second man got on top of her and ripped her bra, according to Ryan, who says the woman screamed and punched him in the face.

The first suspect told the other to flee, "moaning in agony, saying ‘Let’s go, let’s go,’" Ryan says. The second suspect got off the woman and the two ran away.

"It appears she was fighting pretty good and she got the best of them," Ryan says.

The police took the woman’s shirt was as evidence. The area of the attack was trampled by lots of people so the police were unable to find footprints, the lieutenant says.

Ryan acknowledges there is little evidence and the police hope they receive tips. The department’s anonymous Tip-A-Cop line is 615-5847 and the department’s regular phone number is 615-5500.

In 2005, the latest year statistics are available, the police arrested one person, a man, on sexual-assault charges. Four rapes were reported that year. The numbers were down slightly from 2000, when seven people were arrested on rape, sodomy or forcible sexual abuse charges.

The police have long been proud that Park City witnesses little violent street crimes and have maintained for years that rapes and sexual assaults in the city are typically committed by people known to the victim, not by strangers.