Cyclist sexually assaulted in Sarasota park

- Police say a woman was pulled from a bicycle and sexually assaulted in a Sarasota park last night.

Located on Sarasota Bay, Centennial Park is a quiet and peaceful place.

"I work out every day. I walk and bike here every day," said Ann Hotaling.

On Wednesday night one woman had the unexpected happen to her.  Around 7 p.m., Sarasota police said the woman told them she was riding her bicycle along a path when a man dragged her off her bike, pulled her into the woods and sexually assaulted her.

"She was very shaken up when she spoke to our detectives. She was very scared. That is why we want to get the word out that this did occur in a pretty popular area here in Sarasota," said Genevieve Judge, SPD spokesperson.

 Judge said detectives are working to locate the man.

"We are not sure if this guy had done this before. We are hoping to catch up with him before he strikes again," she said.

Ann Hotaling walks through the path off U.S. Highway 41 everyday and comes prepared for any situation.

"I am always conscious and I try to be aware," she said.

Centennial Park is a wide open space; a parking lot for the 10th street boat ramp takes up most of the land.
Benches are nearby for people to sit and relax. 

The attack has many upset.

"I am really surprised. I didn't think anything like that could happen around here," said David Pitchford.

Police ask everyone who uses the area to keep their eyes open and to be extra cautious.

"It really concerns me. I really hate to hear that that happened," said Pitchford.

The suspect is described as dark-skinned black male, between 30 and 40 years old.  He is approximately 6-foot-2 with a very thin build.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Detective Dan Riley at 941-954-7062 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS or online at www.sarasotacrimestoppers.com.

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