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Covina sexual assault victim's father speaks out

March 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The father of a 7-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted outside her Covina home on Saturday is speaking out, asking for the public's help in finding the attacker and calling his daughter a fighter.

In an emotional interview, Jason Gatfield explained the events that took place outside his home over the weekend.

"She was standing on this brick wall right over here, and he grabbed her and put his hand over her mouth and dragged her right here where I cut the bushes down, and he basically tried groping her," Gatfield said, choking back tears.

The second grader was playing out front of her home in the 400 block of South Cedar Drive when the brazen suspect made his move. But the feisty little girl fought back, biting the suspect on his hand.

"I've always taught my daughter that if anybody ever grabs you, you just bite, kick, scream. And she bit him," Gatfield said. "I consider my little girl a hero because he stopped and let go."

The suspect was described as a white male, between 18 to 40 years old, approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall, with brown eyes. He was wearing a dark hooded-sweatshirt and a multi-colored headband. He fled in a 2005 or newer burgundy Nissan Altima with paper plates that said "Wondries" in black and neon green letters.

Authorities believe this is not the first time the attacker has committed this crime, and fear he could strike again. They're looking into the possibility that the suspect may be a registered sex offender given his brazen attack.

"Obviously [at] 6:45 in the evening, it's still daylight, people are out and about in the area. It's a pretty quite neighborhood for the most part, and we obviously think he's either done it before or he really just didn't care," said Covina Police Sgt. Ray Marquez.

Gatfield said his daughter, who's an honor roll student, is a fighter, and had a warning for the suspect.

"I just want to say they will find you and people are looking for you, and we will find you. You're lucky I don't find you because if I did, if I would have caught you right here you would be dead," Gatfield said.

Anyone with information was asked to contact the Covina Police Department at (626) 384-5623.

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