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Los Angeles

Police Seek Suspect in Attack at High School

August 30, 2003|Hector Becerra | Times Staff Writer

Redondo Beach police canvassed the city Friday, looking for a man they said had ambushed and sexually assaulted a student in a school restroom.

"We want to commit a lot of resources to this investigation," Lt. John Skipper said.

The attack reportedly occurred just before 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Redondo Union High School. Armed with a knife, the suspect hid in a restroom stall of the school gymnasium before the attack, police said.

The girl, whose age was not released to protect her privacy, was alone in the restroom when the attack occurred, police said.

"Many of our detectives who would not be working today are out there interviewing," said Capt. Joe Leonardi.

Police describe the attacker as weighing about 250 pounds; fat, not muscular; about 5 feet 9; black; and 28 to 33 years old. A composite drawing released Friday shows a lightly bearded man wearing sunglasses and a beanie.

Although people at the school said they had seen a white car speed away soon after the time of the attack, police said it was possible the man had fled on foot.

Since parking on many streets around the campus is by permit only, police are checking with parking enforcement to see if any tickets were issued Thursday afternoon to vehicles without permits, Leonardi said.

Though classes do not begin until Wednesday, cheerleaders and some athletic teams, including the football team, were practicing on campus at the time of the assault.

"There were a number of people out there," Skipper said. "There were plenty of people that could have seen this person" enter and leave the school.

With the exception of football practice, most other activities were canceled Friday and the area around the crime scene was cordoned off, said Robert Paulson, assistant superintendent in charge of student services for the Redondo Beach Unified School District.

"This is the first time in at least the 40 years I've been here that anything like this has happened," Paulson said. ".... We just want to make it so that it never happens again."

The district is bringing in additional school security officers, notifying parents and putting an alert out on its Web site. Counselors will also be provided for students, Paulson said.

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