SANTA CRUZ — A man entered a home in the middle of the night, walked through the kitchen, past the parents' bedroom, down a hall, into the bedroom of a sleeping 10-year-old girl and sexually assaulted her, police said.
The man threatened the girl and then assaulted her, police said. He ran out the back door when she screamed, waking her parents.
"Her screaming saved her from being raped," her father told the Sentinel of Santa Cruz. "She was very brave."
Police continued to search Friday for the man, who walked into the home about 4 a.m. Thursday through an unlocked back door.
The girl, who was not seriously injured, was examined at Dominican Hospital, Detective Loran Baker said.
Police believe the attacker entered the home with the intent to assault the child, Baker said. Nothing was stolen and no weapon was used.
"It has been extremely traumatic," the girl's father said. "It's a terrible feeling of having someone come into your home and do something like that and then slip out."
The brazen attack reminded residents all too much of the murder of Polly Klaas, who was kidnaped from her home in Petaluma last year.
"All the mothers, they're all really upset. They were crying," neighbor Robert Keller said.
The attacker was described as a white man between 20 and 30 years old. He is 6 feet tall and weighs about 170 pounds. He had brown hair tied in a ponytail, and the area below the ponytail was shaved.
"The search and canvassing the neighbors about anything they might have seen or heard continued" Friday, said Sgt. Joe Haebe of the Santa Cruz Police Department. The victim "is doing fine. We've got a lot of information out there. We're hoping it pans out."