A woman reported to police that a man attempted to sexually assault her early Jan. 6 in the area of 23rd and Guerrero streets. Police are still searching for the suspect and are asking for the public’s help.

Officer Albie Esparza told Mission Local that the victim was walking on 23rd Street between Guerrero and San Jose at about 2:40 a.m. Sunday when she noticed a man who was acting suspicious, she told police. She tried to distance herself from him but he was able to attack her, pushed her to the ground and straddled her, Esparza said.

The victim told police that the man was attempting to rape her. She sent an e-mail to neighborhood groups to alert people. In the e-mail, she wrote:

As I turned up 23rd street, I noticed a man walking to me that ‘zero-ed’ in on my presence, locking eyes on me. There was no side street to turn down, and I didn’t want to turn around, exposing my back to him, so I kept walking. As we neared each other, I tried to walk around a tree quite close to the curb, before I could do so he lunged at me.

He knew what he was doing and how to attack someone. He went first for my eye socket with his thumb and put his other hand in my mouth to stifle my screams and slammed me down to the ground. He was using the hand in my mouth and on my jaw to try and slam my head on the concrete, presumably to knock me out. Once I was down on the ground he straddled me pinning down my arms. After about 15s of struggling just to avoid him knocking me out, I was able to use all my strength to surge up on my right side to unpin that arm. Since I’m a climber, I’m strong, and I don’t think he was expecting this and was unprepared for that maneuver. Luckily through this move and some biting, I was also able to get his hand out of my mouth and started screaming – first just yelling and then screaming for help. I struggled with him while screaming and trying to avoid him knocking me out for another 30s until a couple in a house several houses down the street threw open their window and turned on lights. This scared him away.

The suspect fled and police drove around the area to search for him but weren’t unable to locate him. Authorities described the suspect as an 5’8-tall Asian man who weighs approximately 160 pounds, between the ages of 20 and 30. He has a buzzcut and a slight beard and was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and dark pants.

The victim suffered non-life threatening injuries including a bruised eye and back, and scratches on her face. If you have any information, please contact SFPD at 415-575-4444.

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Hélène Goupil

Hélène Goupil is a former editor at Mission Local who now works independently as a videographer and editor. She's the co-author of "San Francisco: The Unknown City" (Arsenal Pulp Press).

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  1. I really try to never ever walk anywhere alone after bars close. it is not even particularly safe with a friend. Alcohol releases inhibitions, and those who tend toward violence may be more prone when drunk. Also, after 2am, the streets tend to be pretty dead, so a perfect time for predators to ply their trade. Take a taxi after 2am, or get an Uber account just for those late night trips. A safe trip home is worth much more than the cost of those services.

    1. I completely agree with this comment, taking a cab is the best option. I am NOT saying you deserve being robbed/assaulted for walking alone at night. I, like everyone else, would like Mission to get cleaned up so that we don’t have to worry about violence and crime, at ALL hours of the day. However, it really is so much worse at night (I hear the gunshots and sirens pretty consistently), so take a cab or use a service like Uber after bars close.

  2. Thank you Mission Local for reporting this story. There was another incident that people should know about because I believe they are related.

    On Saturday night, technically Sunday morning at 12:15 AM, just a few hours before the above incident, I overheard a woman scream at the corner of 23rd st. and South Van Ness. By the time I reached my window, the police were already arriving, and I could see the woman’s forehead was bleeding. She showed the cops a dark area near the stairs to an apartment building. I assume the victim saw whoever attacked her.

    I have not been able to find out what actually happened, but, when I heard about the above incident at 23rd/guerrero, I immediately felt that these two events were related. I suspect that whoever attacked the woman near Guerrero tried to do the same a few hours earlier near S. Van Ness. Unfortunately the perpetrator got away both times.

    Whether these two crimes are related or not, I encourage anyone with any information about the S. Van Ness incident to report what they know to the police. I just called the police to suggest these incidents were related. They did not seem very interested in connecting these two, but they were similar incidents, just a few hours apart, and a few blocks apart, on the same street. Sadly there are enough of these crimes that they could be totally separate.

    In the meantime, please be safe when walking the streets at any time of day. These women were probably paying attention to their surroundings, but apparently that is not enough. Be proactive and defensive. If you see someone walking toward you who gives you any suspicions, just cross the street. If that person also crosses, turn around and get out of there. Better safe than sorry.

    I hope these women will be able to eventually feel safe walking around the neighborhood.

    1. I believe that women should carry a pocket knife.i have one that is an S.O.G knife they are awesome or for those who cannot or will not use them there is all types of pepper spray.i know when I’m alone at night walking at those hours I keep my knife opened in my pocket.im a mother so I cannot risk anything happening to me and I will do whatever necessary to protect myself and make sure I get back home to my daughter.even if it means defending myself.

      1. I think that sounds really responsible for a mom, walking out at nearly 3:00am with an open SOG knifre in your purse. You should be mother of the year. Bless you.

    1. FYI- The original description of the man in this story included everything except for the suspect being Asian. Mission Local almost never puts in ethnic descriptions. Most of the time it doesn’t matter, but when there is a rapist on the loose it’s good that they abandoned their idea of being PC and amended the story.

      1. General news reporters used to always mention the race as long as the person wasn´t white. If they were white, there was no need to mention the race, in their view. If the person was black, they´d be sure to mention it and include a photography, to drive it home. If they didn´t have a photograph, then simply a number of black men walking on the sidewalk would do. I´m glad that aspect of reporting has dramatically changed since 911. And it has.

  3. people need to seriousky stop walking around the mission area after 1am!
    i read all the attacks, robberis are people walking alone late/early at night

    think smart people!

    1. actually, there are a fair amount of stabbings, shootings, etc that are happening right in the middle of the day.

    2. While that may be the reality of the situation, let’s please not focus on what the victim “should” have done implying they deserved this in any way, and instead focus on the violation and horror of what this guy did and hope he will be caught.

  4. Damn, that is scary! I’m so sorry this happen and I really hope the police are able to find this sick bastard!

  5. Someone’s not REALLY seeking the public’s help:

    A man 5’8 160 lbs between 20 and 30.
    That’s it? Haven’t we had enough of PC at the expense of public safety already?

    1. add some essential adjectives that you left out: “Asian man with a buzzcut and a slight beard” and you’ve actually narrowed it down quite bit.

    2. >>Someone’s not REALLY seeking the public’s help:

      That’s a pretty cynical approach to getting more information.
      Rather than presuming someone’s intent, try just asking a simple question.