Lawrence Police are asking for the public's help in identifying a man who attacked and sexually assaulted a 22-year-old Kansas University student in the 1100 block of Tennessee Street as she walked home from a downtown bar.
Sometime between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. Sunday, the man ran up behind the woman, pushed her to the ground and began assaulting her, said Sgt. Dan Ward, a Lawrence Police spokesman. She fought him off by kicking, biting and punching him, Ward said.
Even though the woman fought off her attacker, there was enough physical contact to classify the case as a rape, Ward said.
The woman had been walking home from Quinton's Bar & Deli, 615 Mass., with a group of friends, Ward said. But she began walking alone after her friends stopped at a party on Tennessee Street.
It's roughly the same area where another female student walking alone was sexually assaulted by a stranger on Sept. 17, 2003. But the suspect description in that case was different enough that police don't consider the cases related, Ward said.
Though it's the latest in a series of reported rapes -- including the unsolved July 14 rape of a student at gunpoint in her residence -- Ward said there hadn't been an increase this year.
As of Monday, there had been 26 rape reports in the city this year, an average of about 2.5 per month, Ward said. In 2003 there was a total of 45 reported rapes, or roughly 3.75 per month.
Students who live in the area of Sunday's attack said some female KU students might have a false sense of security about walking alone in Lawrence.
"We all think that nothing bad could happen to us," said Dana Starr, who lives on Ohio Street about a block from the assault scene.
Tarin Goodnight, a resident of nearby Corbin Hall, said she was still finding her way around Lawrence but had been told before she arrived here that it was a safe place.
"Now that all this has happened, it's kind of made me be a little more aware," she said.
The victim described her attacker as a white male in his 20s, about 5 feet 11 inches tall with a muscular build and short blond hair. She didn't get a clothing description, Ward said.
Ward asked anyone with information about the crime to call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 843-TIPS.
He also reminded women to walk in groups whenever possible after dark.
6News reporter Brooke Wehner contributed information to this article.