Sexual attack reported in Center City

July 11, 2008 8:50:57 PM PDT
Philadelphia police are investigating a reported sexual attack in Center City Philadelphia early this morning.A 21-year-old told police she was attacked from behind as she walked to her home from a friend's house around 1:30.

"The male, basically, forces her down to the ground and removes her underwear; he attempts to rape her. She has an opportunity to kick the male away and she kicks him in the stomach once she pushes him away. The male gets up and takes off running," Lieutenant Stephen Biello of Police Special Victims said.

She described the suspect as a white male in his early 20's about 6 feet tall, thin, dark hair, with a scruffy, 5-day-old beard.

Police say the woman had walked all the way to her fashionable neighborhood here at 21st and spruce from 12th and Arch.

Nancy McKee lives nearby and she says the rape conjures up memories of Shannon Schieber, who was sexually assaulted and murdered down the block by the Center City rapist a decade ago.

"I understand it can happen anywhere, but I don't think it's going to change anything I do or the way I take of my business in the neighborhood," McKee said.

Despite the proximity to an attempted sexual assault at 16th and Pine 2 weeks ago, police say these incidents are not related.

The suspect's descriptions differ sharply.

The police investigation continues around the clock. Patrolling will be heavier than normal starting tonight.

Police are urging women to be on alert and to try not to walk the streets alone in remote areas after dark.