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Police release sketch of Echo Park rapist

February 18, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Police sought the public's help Thursday in the search for a man who raped a 15-year-old girl near the lake in Echo Park on Christmas Day.Video surveillance from a liquor store south of Echo Park Lake captured the assailant's image. Also seen in the video is the 15-year-old victim. At this point she was with him on her own free will.

"They are both seen there shopping for food and alcohol," said LAPD Lt. Wes Buhrmester.

According to Lt. Buhrmester, the two had just met that evening. The 15-year-old arrived on a bus from North Hollywood looking for a friend. When she couldn't find her friend she joined a group of strangers drinking near the lake.

"She was looking around trying to find a way back home towards the Valley," said Lt. Buhrmester. "She met up with a group of other 18 and 25 year olds and befriended this particular male."

After leaving the store, detectives say he had her separated from the bunch and guided her towards a secluded alley near Belmont and Bellvue avenues.

"Bodily force was the only weapon used," said Lt. Buhrmester. "He did not have a firearm, knife or anything like that."

Yet police say he is very dangerous.

"He is an opportunist. The victim is 15 years old," said Lt. Buhrmester. "We believe the male suspect to be an adult. So if he capitalizes on her naïveté once it could easily happen again. That is the importance of us locating and arresting him."

The suspect was described as a man in his 20s, possibly Hispanic, about 6 feet tall and between 160 and 170 pounds. He was wearing prescription glasses and was last seen wearing a black, hooded sweatshirt with white stripes. He also had a piercing on one side of his lower lip.

"We have no reason to believe that he has left," said Lt. Buhrmester. "One of the things that the victim stated was that he was 'just hanging out.' That is why we believe that he might be a member of the community and may live in the area."

Anyone with information about the attack or the suspect is urged to call sexual assault detectives at the LAPD's Rampart Station at (213) 484-3624. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be made to 1-877-LAPD-24-7.