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'Groper' Strikes Again, Still No Arrests

The case has stumped investigators for a year.

A serial attacker known as "The Groper" has grabbed the attention of police detectives once again.

The assailant goes up behind young women who are walking alone, touches them inappropriately and sometimes pushes them to the ground before running away. In some instances, he flees in a car.

After a six-month hiatus, "The Groper" attacked a 24-year-old woman earlier this month, Watsonville police Sgt. Saul Gonzalez reported Tuesday.

The most recent sexual battery happened around 4:30 p.m. March 1 while the woman was walking on Green Valley Road near Carey Avenue, Gonzalez said.

The woman wasn't talking on a cellphone or using an iPod, distractions that had been present with other victims, police said.

"She was just walking alone," Gonzalez said.

Police suspect this is the same attacker "based on the M.O., based on the physical description" and because the woman had seen sketches of the suspect and identified him, Gonzalez said. "Unfortunately, no new evidence came from it."

Check out about the ongoing investigation.

The groper has struck 12 times since March 2010. All of the attacks happened in Watsonville and Pajaro, across the river in North Monterey County. The last incident was in September on a busy street, and no one went to the aid of the 15-year-old girl who was attacked.

"We suspect something made him lay dormant, whether he went back to Mexico or was in jail," Gonzalez said.

Police advised that young women walking alone be aware and avoid distractions such as iPods and cellphone calls. If attacked, yell, scream and fight back.

Police asked that anyone with information about the attacks call police at 831-768-3350 or the crime tip line at 831-724-3544.

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