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Woman allegedly sexually assaulted at OC mall

September 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A woman shopping at an Orange County mall said she was sexually assaulted inside a store Monday afternoon, and the suspect got away.Samantha Wright, 38, said she was shopping for greeting cards just before 3 p.m. at the Laguna Hills Mall when a man brushed up against her from behind while she wasn't looking.

"As I leaned over to pick out a card, I felt a very hard brush, which was very apparent the man was erect," Wright said. "I just started screaming immediately, 'This man just shoved himself into me.'"

The man then excused himself, Wright said.

"I remember focusing on his wedding ring," she said. "How creepy this is. If his wife only knew."

Wright said two store workers helped locate a mall security guard riding a scooter.

They pointed out the suspect who was walking away, but the man was not stopped.

"The security guard came back and told me I needed to go with him to point out the man," Wright said." I said, 'I'm not going, I'm terrified,' and he said, 'Well, then there's nothing I can do.'"

According to the police report, the security guard said the policy to detain someone meant "someone from the store" had to accompany him. A store employee, however, allegedly offered to do that.

The guard watched the man leave the mall. He also told investigators the mall's common areas have no surveillance cameras.

"I wish there were cameras working because maybe this creep could be stopped," Wright said.

A security guard at the mall declined to comment.

"This happened within a tenant space so it doesn't involve the mall," said Melissa Palencia with Simon Property Group, which manages the mall. "The O.C. Sheriff's Department is investigating. I can't comment on security procedures and policies at the mall."

The suspect is described as being a White man in his early 60's, six feet tall, with a slender build. He had grey curly hair just past his ear and was wearing thin frame glasses with a grey t-shirt and shorts.

Wright said she fears the suspect might assault other women.

"This could happen to my daughters or to my sister, to anybody," Wright said. "He's obviously preying on women."

"It was very brazen and usually the brazen ones repeat their acts," said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's department at (866) 847-6273.


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