Beacon Hill once again put on alert for sexual predator

Boston police are again warning people in Beacon Hill to watch out for a sexual predator, a man they believe attacked three women in a 34-hour period over Thursday and Friday.

Six months after police arrested a convicted sex offender who allegedly forced his way into a woman’s apartment and raped her at knifepoint, officers are fanning out across the neighborhood in search of a man they believe assaulted the three women. The attacks happened within a couple of blocks of each other.

“These sexual assaults have similarities and may be connected,” police said in a statement.

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The victims in the latest assaults were approached from behind and two of the women were attacked as they tried to get inside their homes, police said. Two of the women were assaulted on the same night.

All three women described a white man in his early to mid-20s, with medium build, between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall. They said he had dark, shaggy hair that hung over his ears, police said.

Women walking around Beacon Hill this afternoon were shaken by the reports, which renewed the fear many felt after the Nov. 10 rape of a young woman, who was assaulted as she returned home following a late night out with friends.

“I didn’t think it would happen in this neighborhood,” said Sherry Haddow, a 31-year-old designer.

After the November attack, Haddow said, she and her roommate are careful out on the street.

“It changed the way we walked past people,” she said.

The first attack occurred at 2:15 p.m. Thursday around Anderson Street as the victim stood outside her apartment, reaching for her keys, and a man groped her. When she yelled for help, he fled on Anderson Street and turned left on Phillips Street. The following night at about 11:30, another woman was heading inside her apartment building around Phillips Street when a man grabbed her and knocked her to the ground. He sexually assaulted her before running away, she said.

Another woman said she was assaulted in the Garden Street area minutes later. She walked past a man on the sidewalk and he approached her. When she turned around to confront him, he groped her then fled on Phillips Street.

City Councilor Michael Ross, whose district covers Beacon Hill, said police contacted him today to tell him about the assaults. He said police are trying to put together a more specific description of the suspect so business owners and residents in the neighborhood can help catch the culprit.

“We’re very concerned about the attacks,” he said. “I’m optimistic that our police will be successful.”

Police said they are stepping up patrols in the area and handing out fliers to business owners and residents to inform them of the assaults.

They took similar steps after the November attack, and a suspect was arrested.

While fewer rapes and attempted rapes have been reported across the city this year compared with the same time period last year, the number of sexual assaults in District 1, the police area that covers Beacon Hill, Downtown Crossing, the North End, and other neighborhoods, is up. Eleven rapes or attempted rapes have been reported in that district between Jan. 1 and May 28, five more than the same time last year, according to the most recent figures released by Boston police.

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at 617-343-4248 or the sexual assault unit at 617-343-4400.