Palo Alto

Sexual Assault Reported at Palo Alto Pedestrian Underpass

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A woman in Palo Alto reportedly was the victim of a sexual assault Sunday afternoon in a pedestrian underpass.

Palo Alto police say they received a call at 2:49 p.m. from a passerby that a woman in the California Avenue underpass was sexually assaulted.

The victim was in her 50s and suffered moderate injuries, police said.

She'd been walking her bicycle eastbound through the underpass and was passed by the suspect, who was walking his bike westbound.

The suspect struck the victim from behind, causing her to fall to the ground. He then allegedly sexually assaulted her. When the victim yelled for help, the suspect stole her cellphone and fled in an unknown direction, police said.

The passerby, who didn't witness the assault, came to her aid and called police.

Officers found her cellphone in the 3000 block of Emerson Street at 3:05 p.m. and are processing it for evidence.

Paramedics from the Palo Alto Fire Department transported the victim to a local hospital, where she is receiving treatment for a laceration to the back of her head and bruising to her neck. She is also receiving a forensic medical examination.

The victim described the suspect as an Asian male between 30 and 40 years old, about 5 feet, 5 inches tall with a stocky build. She said he was clean-shaven and was wearing a dark bike helmet, dark sunglasses, and a high-visibility yellow top.

Police said they will have the victim meet with a police artist Monday; if a sketch can be generated, police will release it immediately.

Investigators are canvassing the area for surveillance footage that may have captured the suspect before or after the assault. Anyone with information can call the Palo Alto Police Department's 24-hour dispatch center at (650) 329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to (650) 383-8984.

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