Crime & Courts

Charlotte police still seeking man who sexually assaulted jogger on popular greenway

Police continued to search Wednesday for the man who sexually assaulted a 21-year-old woman jogger on a popular greenway in Charlotte’s University City area.

The woman was attacked at about 5 p.m. Sunday on a greenway trail in the 9400 block of David Taylor Drive, according to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department incident report. She did not know her assailant, police said.

Police did not name the greenway, but Mecklenburg County greenway maps identify it as Mallard Creek Greenway.

The woman also was choked and was treated for bruises and scratches, police said in the report.

She managed to fight off the assailant when he tried to drag her into bushes, WSOC-TV reported, citing police. The jogger used pepper spray to ward the attacker off after he tackled her to the ground, according to WCNC-TV.

As of Wednesday, no one had been charged in the case, CMPD Officer Jeffrey Page told The Charlotte Observer.

Jack Shannon of the University City Road Runners group said he and his wife run on the greenway every Saturday and sometimes on Sundays. “We’ve logged thousands of miles throughout the year” on the greenway, he said.

Such attacks are “absolutely rare, and people should go out and enjoy the greenways,” he said. His advice for feeling extra secure: “Run with a buddy, carry pepper spray.”

Of Sunday’s incident, he said: “The greenway is a welcoming place, and so it feels like a violation of that trust we have for one another on that greenway.”

Anyone with information about the case can remain anonymous and call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600, Page said.

Police did not immediately respond to a request from the Observer for the number of such attacks on Mecklenburg County greenways in recent years.

Rick Christenbury, a spokesman for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, referred questions about crimes on county greenways to CMPD.

In previous public safety videos, CMPD officers said such attacks are rare but recommended such tips as:

Taking a friend or family member with you to a greenway or park.

If going alone, making sure someone knows where you are headed and when you plan to return.

Immediately calling police if you see something suspicious while on a greenway.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.