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Suspect sought in Back Bay assaults of 4 women

Boston police are searching for a man they believe indecently assaulted four women during a nine-hour period this week in the Back Bay.

The brazen attacks occurred roughly between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 7 a.m. Wednesday, police said. While descriptions varied, the women generally described the assailant as a white man between 20 and 30 years old, standing between 5 foot 7 and 5 foot 10, police said. He weighed about 175 pounds and wore a tan jacket.

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The most recent assault occurred about 6:55 a.m. Wednesday. A woman told police she was walking her dog on the 290 block of Commonwealth Avenue and passed a man sitting on a bench who shouted, “Hey, hey.”

The woman said she did not have any money, and the man leaped from the bench and indecently assaulted her, according to a police statement. He punched her in the head when she started to scream. He then fled toward Massachusetts Avenue.

About six hours earlier, on the 150 block of Newbury Street, a man approached a woman from behind and indecently assaulted her, before fleeing, police said.

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A third woman was attacked on Dartmouth Street near Beacon Street Tuesday around 10 p.m. after a man asked her for the time and she replied, “It’s 10 o’clock.” He began walking closer to her and committed an indecent assault and fled, the statement reported.

Roughly 10 minutes later, a man began following a fourth woman, also on Dartmouth Street, and was saying things behind her, which she ignored.

‘It’s important, because it better enables us to see patterns in [attackers’] behavior.’

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“She stated the suspect came from behind, indecently touched her, and fled on foot,” the statement said.

The Back Bay assaults came after four women were attacked in a similar manner in the Beacon Hill neighborhood between May and July.

The women gave a general description of 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.

A police spokeswoman said Wednesday that the Back Bay and Beacon Hill cases do not appear to be connected. No arrests have been made in either set of attacks.

In another highly publicized case, a Northeastern University student was charged in June with attempting to rape two women at knifepoint in a span of less than an hour in Mission Hill.

Meg Bossong — community engagement manager for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, which helps victims of sexual assault — praised the Back Bay women for reporting the attacks.

“It’s incredibly courageous, and we really appreciate all the folks who came forward in this case and in every case,” Bossong said.

“It’s important, because it better enables us to see patterns in [attackers’] behavior.”

In particular, she said, calling out by strangers on the street is “a huge red flag behavior.”

On Wednesday, authorities listed a number of steps that people can take to protect themselves, such as avoiding walking alone late at night, carrying a whistle that can be used if there is a perceived threat, and holding keys in hand to use as a weapon.

Police added, “If an unarmed attacker confronts you, believe in your ability to scare, distract, or even incapacitate the attacker enough to escape.”

Police urge anyone with information on the Back Bay and Beacon Hill suspects to call detectives at 617-343-4400 or the anonymous tip line at 800-494-TIPS. Members of the public can also text the word TIP to 27463.

In addition, sexual assault victims and their families can call the Rape Crisis Center hot line at 617-492-7273.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@
globe.com.
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