Police continue search for boy's attacker

"Police continued to search today for the man suspected of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old boy in the bathroom of the Federal Way 320th Library Thursday afternoon.It's the first sexual assault committed by a stranger against a child in the last year, said police spokesman Mark Harreus.The boy was with his father at the library, located at 848 S. 320th St. He went alone into the bathroom, where the suspect sexually assaulted him. The suspect is described as a tall, black man between 30 and 40 years old. At the time of the assault, he was wearing red pants and had facial hair.People who see a man matching the suspect description are asked to call the Department of Public Safety's 24-hour line at 661-4600 or call 9-1-1. Police are releasing no further details of the crime to protect the child and his family, Harreus said. That includes information about whether the man was carrying a weapon and whether the child knew the man.Weapons, no weapons. Known, unknown, Harreus said. The bottom line is people need to be supervising their children in public places.The library, like others in the King County Library Services system, posts signs cautioning patrons that they assume responsibility for their safety and the safety of their children and their possessions, said community relations director Julie Wallace. The libraries don't have video surveillance.If patrons are unable to take their children into the restroom, they can ask library employees for assistance, Wallace said.But Wallace says last week's assault shouldn't cause patrons unnecessary concern about safety at the library specifically. This is an isolated incident, she said. It has never occurred within our library. But it scares Federal Way mom Judy Simone-Johnson.It breaks my heart, she said. It scares me to death. You just can't go anywhere, not that we don't watch our kids but you like to think they can go into the bathroom without worrying about someone hiding out in there. Police are reminding parents to not leave young children unattended, particularly in public areas. Crimes like this can occur in an instant, Harreus said, so parents and caretakers must maintain constant visual contact with their children. It could have occurred in the bathroom at a restaurant as easily as a bathroom at the library.It could have happened anywhere, he said.Most sexual assaults against children, however, occur in someone's home and the assailant is someone the child knows.It is very uncommon to have a stranger sexually assault a child, Harreus said. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases the perpetuator is known to the child and the child's family.According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, parents have more to worry about from family members and acquaintances than strangers. About 70 percent of the sexual assaults reported to law enforcement occurred in the home of the victim, the offender or another person, according to the justice department's July 2000 Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident and Offender Characteristics. Victims age 11 and younger were more likely to be victimized in a home.Juvenile victims also typically know their assailant. About 34 percent are family members and 58.7 percent are acquaintances. Just 7 percent of the people who sexually assault children age 17 and younger are strangers. In cases where the victim is younger than age 5, only 3.1 percent of offenders are strangers. "

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