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Beacon Hill residents on alert after a spate of assaults

Four assaults on women have occurred in the Beacon Hill area in less than two months.

Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Four assaults on women have occurred in the Beacon Hill area in less than two months.

Just days after a woman was assaulted in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, the fourth since the end of May, residents went about their normal routines Thursday afternoon. But Brooke Feldman, 27, said the attacks lingered in the back of her mind.

“It makes me very nervous,” she said. “But I’m cognizant that I’m a young woman living in a city, so I do try to be extra careful.”

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In the most recent attack, around 6:15 p.m. Monday, a woman was assaulted by a man on Brimmer Street as she walked toward the Charles/MGH T station, police said. The suspect fled up Chestnut Street toward Charles Street.

At the end of May, the upscale neighborhood had already been rattled by three sexual assaults within a few blocks of each other, all within a 36-hour period.

“It is unsettling to people, particularly this situation that occurred on Monday, because it happened during fairly daylight hours, as opposed to in the dark,” said MaryLee Halpin, executive director of the Beacon Hill Civic Association. “That has people thinking about it perhaps a little differently than they had before.”

Michelle Hernandez, 30, who lives just off Brimmer Street, said the daylight attack should serve as a reminder for women to be smart about walking alone, regardless of the time of day.

“You think it’s the safest in the daytime,” she said, “but it’s not anymore.”

‘I always am aware of who else I share the area with, maybe a little more aware now, though. I’m probably more likely to take a cab now if I am coming home from work alone late at night.’

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The first sexual assault occurred May 30 at 2:15 p.m. around Anderson Street, police said. As the victim stood outside her apartment, reaching for her keys, a man groped her. When she yelled for help, he fled on Anderson Street and turned left on Phillips Street.

The following night, at about 11:30, another woman was entering her apartment building around Phillips Street when a man grabbed her and knocked her to the ground, said police. He sexually assaulted her before running away, she told police.

Another woman said she was sexually assaulted in the Garden Street area just minutes later. When she turned to confront a man who approached her from behind, he groped her and then fled on Phillips Street, police reported.

All four victims described their attacker as a white man in his early- to mid-20s, of medium build, and between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-10. They said he had dark, shaggy hair that hung over his ears, police said.

In a statement, Boston police said investigators are looking into a possible connection between the assaults, although nothing has been concluded.

Police say they are stepping up their presence in the neighborhood, and Dori Moreno, general manager at Harvard Gardens restaurant, said police stopped by Thursday afternoon with information about the attack and fliers with safety tips. Amanda Sebert, who lives on Anderson Street, said that the attacks startled her and that she considered applying for a permit to carry pepper spray to protect herself.

“I always am aware of who else I share the area with, maybe a little more aware now though,” the 21-year-old said. “I’m probably more likely to take a cab now if I am coming home from work alone late at night.”

Beacon Hill resident Liz Warren, 48, said that she was surprised to learn of the attacks, but that they do not make her feel any less secure.

“I really do feel safe in the neighborhood,” she said. “There is a lot of foot traffic around here, and those of us who live in the area are always aware of what’s going on around us.”

The series of assaults are not the only recent violent attacks on women around Beacon Hill. On June 30, two state troopers patrolling the Esplanade stopped an apparent sexual assault near the Longfellow Bridge, not far from Beacon Hill. And in November, police arrested a convicted sex offender who allegedly forced his way into a woman’s Beacon Hill apartment and raped her at knifepoint.

Despite the concerns of some residents, Bianca Reising said she does not give a second thought to walking the streets alone. “Honestly, I feel like the people getting attacked aren’t being aware,” said Reising, 21. “And they’re probably overreacting in their [police] reports.”

On Charles Street, Jill Pelo, a co-owner of The Designers Leather Clothiers, said Beacon Hill is generally a safe area.

“The assault on Brimmer Street was a shocker,” she said. “Good heavens, it’s still light out at 6 p.m.”

Pelo, though, is not worried. She and her husband walk to and from work six days a week with their Siberian Husky, Nadia. She pointed to where Nadia lay, resting, in a corner of the shop. As if on cue, Nadia let out a bellowing bark.

“Now you see why we don’t have trouble,” Pelo said.

Colin A. Young can be reached at colin.young@globe.com. Nikita Lalwani can be reached at nikita.lalwani@globe.com.
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