String of sex attacks reported in Camden

January 2, 2008 4:02:41 PM PST
It is an alarming crime trend that has investigators scrambling. Nine incidents over the past three months, and parents are only now getting the word.Tracy Gooden picks up his kids every day at Veterans Memorial Middle School. But still, he would like to have been warned about the rash of assaults.

"We think we have an usually high number of these incidents involving this demographic of young women," Acting Camden County Prosecutor Josh Ottenberg told Action News.

The girls range in age from 11 to 16 years old. Some of the victims have been sexually assaulted; others managed to fight off their attackers. Because the attacks have all happened after dark, investigators have been unable to get a clear description of the predator or his vehicle.

Police say there is also a strong possibility that more than one predator is involved. The victims have all been walking alone when someone tries to drag them into a vehicle. Some of the victims have been raped inside a dark colored van.

The assaults have happened all over the city. Two of them happened near the Camden Promise School. The school quickly acted on its own to notify parents through letters and e-mails and they have taken steps to make sure students are not out after dark.

"We have also decreased our afterschool program by an hour so our students can have safe passage home, as well as, making sure every parent in the middle school is picking up their children at the school," Marvin Jones, the principal of Camden Promise School said.

The County Prosecutor says the warning to parents is the same as it's always' been.

Ottenberg says investigators have identified a person of interest in at least some of the assaults. He is known to the police, but so far they haven't been able to find him.