LINCOLN PARK — A man who may be responsible for a string of sexual assaults in Lincoln Park is being questioned by authorities, police said.
Around 1:40 a.m. Thursday, a 21-year-old was returning to her car near DePaul's Wish Field in the 900 block of West Belden Avenue when a man knocked her to the ground and sexually assaulted her, according to Officer Jose Estrada, a Chicago Police spokesman. She screamed and the man ran away.
The woman was brought to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where she was listed in good condition, Estrada said, and no one is in custody.
The incident was the third such attack in the neighborhood this month.
On Aug. 9, a woman was grabbed and assaulted. Another woman was walking home on Aug. 15 when a man came up behind her and assaulted her, though she was able to fight him off, according to police.
During each of the assaults, a woman was walking alone to her home or was at her home's entryway when she was attacked, according to police.
The assaults occurred:
• 3:45 a.m. Aug. 9 in the 1900 block of North Bissell Street
• 12:25 a.m. Aug. 15 in the 100 block of West Goethe Street
• 1:40 a.m. Aug. 20 in the 900 block of West Belden Avenue
Ald. Michele Smith said she did not know about the attack on Aug. 15, which occurred just outside of her ward, until she received a community alert from police Thursday afternoon.
In an email to constituents Thursday afternoon, she said she was "extremely concerned" that the police notification was sent to her office "significantly later than [she] would have expected."
The 43rd ward alderman is also calling for better communication between police, her office and the community.
"I am strongly urging the Chicago police department to improve the system for notifying alderman and the community about sexual assaults so that all relevant incidents are reported, not just those within strict ward boundaries. Crime doesn't respect ward boundaries," she said in a written statement.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi wouldn't comment specifically on Ald. Smith's complaint, but said the "core focus was maintaining the privacy of the victim and focusing on identifying" the person who committed the crime.
"Community engagement and information sharing is a priority for the Police Department and vital in our efforts to make Chicago safer," he added in a written statement.
On Thursday afternoon, fliers warning residents about a "Lincoln Park serial rapist" were posted throughout the neighborhood.
DePaul University student Tiffany Kwai, 26, said the recent attacks make her feel unsafe because she walks around Lincoln Park at night.
"It makes me more paranoid, but I walk in main streets and I usually look to see if anyone's following me," she said.
Another DePaul University student, Luceo Arreola, said after hearing about the attacks she is thinking about buying a pocket knife.
"It could happen to anyone," said Arreola, who spends a lot of time at her girlfriend's apartment on the DePaul campus.
Ald. Smith said her office has begun outreach to the areas where the assaults occurred and was distributing a flier with more information. Her office will be hosting a public safety seminar in the coming weeks. More details will be available soon.
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