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Sheriff's department looking for man who groped 12-year-old girl in Santee

San Diego Sheriff
Posted at 5:33 PM, May 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-20 17:25:28-04

SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) — The San Diego County Sheriff's Department says it needs the public's help to find a man who groped a 12-year-old girl in Santee.

According to deputies, the groping happened just before 4 p.m. Thursday, May 18, near Big Rock Park in the 8100 block of Arlette Street.

A 12-year-old student from Chett F. Harritt School was approached by a man as she walked toward the park with a friend. Deputies say the man inappropriately touched the girl's chest, and the victim's friend tried to push the suspect off her.

The suspect drove off on a black and gray electric scooter, and he was last seen heading eastbound toward Mesa Road, according to the sheriff's department.

After the girl's mother reported the incident to the Santee sheriff's station, the department sent a helicopter over the area to look for the suspect.

Deputies did not find the man, and the Sheriff's Child Abuse Unit is now in charge of the investigation.

The sheriff's department provided the following description for the suspect: 20-year-old Hispanic man, around 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighs about 160 pounds and has short hair and a mustache. He was last seen wearing a black jacket and black pants.

There will be deputies carrying out extra patrols around Chett F. Harritt School and Big Rock Park beginning Monday, May 22.

If you have more information for deputies regarding this case or surveillance video that could help, contact the sheriff's department at 858-565-5200.

In the press release, deputies provided the following safety tactics parents should share with their children:

  • Use the buddy system and avoid walking alone.
  • Parents should plan, map out and practice safe routes with children before they head out on their own.
  • Teach your children not to talk to strangers. 
  • Remind children to stay off cell phones. They should be able to hear their surroundings when walking to school or a bus stop.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel you are being followed or something is not right, seek help immediately.
  • If a stranger grabs you, drop to the ground, kick, hit, bite or scream. Do whatever it takes to grab the attention of others who can help you.
  • Go to a trusted adult, a teacher, coach, parent, older sibling or law enforcement for help and report the incident immediately.