Sexual assault cases under investigation on Waltham’s Riverwalk
Two women, one of them a teenage girl, came to the police with allegations, but it is unclear if the attacks were committed by the same person.
Content warning: This article discusses instances of sexual assault.
Two sexual assaults recently took place along the Waltham Riverwalk. The Riverwalk, located alongside the Charles River and spanning roughly two miles, is under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts State Police, but the Waltham Police Department “has been assisting and will continue to assist with these investigations,” according to a statement in NBC Boston. Extra patrols have been added to the area.
A teenage girl, whose age remains undisclosed, was assaulted the night of Sept. 14. After walking with friends near the Riverwalk’s entrance on Elm Street, once alone, she was grabbed from behind by an unknown assailant, according to police. The suspect pushed her up against a tree and assaulted her but left when he thought he heard someone approaching. The girl did not see her assailant, but heard what sounded like the suspect riding away on a bicycle.
The evening of Thursday, Oct. 20, a woman who was running along the Riverwalk’s bike path was assaulted by an unknown suspect, according to state police. The 37-year-old woman reported on the evening, Oct. 20, that a man approached her from behind and touched her inappropriately twice. “He followed me down the riverwalk to the east and then assaulted me closer to Moody Street, so he could bike off into traffic and not be seen,” the woman told CBS News Boston. She ran off, but he approached on a bicycle and grabbed her from behind a second time. “He did it twice in a 30-minute span, so if he didn't do it to me again, he would’ve just done it to someone else.”
The woman reported that the assailant wore an orange sweatshirt. He is described as either white or Hispanic, of average height and build, and in either his 20s or his 30s. State police spokesman Dave Procopio stated in an Oct. 26 Boston Globe article that it is currently unclear whether or not the attacks on both women were committed by the same person.
The woman shared her experience on a neighborhood app after reporting the incident to the Waltham Police, and her story resonated with other Waltham families. A woman who spoke with NewsCenter 5 reported that intoxicated men have harassed her multiple times when she was walking along the Riverwalk. “Generally speaking, [it is] a beautiful path. However, many times in the past few months, I have felt uncomfortable,” she said. Another woman reported that her teenage daughter was assaulted on the Charles River Greenway in mid-September.
Waltham City Councilor Jonathan Paz, according to WCVB 5, is urging the state to take more precautions in order to protect its citizens, such as better lighting on the Riverwalk. “Assaults like these are not the norm,” Paz said. “We know we’re not seeing this all the time, but it’s important to show that this area is not just abandoned.”
Brandeis students have also been the subject of harassment along the Riverwalk in the past, but the University has released no statement on the recent assaults.
Anyone with information is asked to call State police at 617-740-7544. Brandeis students can also call the Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center’s 24/7 counseling and rape crisis hotline at 781-736-3370, the Brandeis 6TALK peer hotline at 781-736-8255 from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays through Wednesdays, or the Brandeis police at 781-736-3333. The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides 24/7 support via their hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and resources for prevention, crisis intervention, and safety planning. REACH provides emergency shelter, education, prevention programming, and a 24/7 confidential hotline https://reachma.org/get-support/direct-services/.
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