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Police: Man gropes 15-year-old girl walking in Palo Alto

Incident happened at Homer Avenue pedestrian tunnel Monday afternoon

Police are looking for a man who allegedly groped a 15-year-old girl as she was walking in the Homer Avenue pedestrian tunnel near Alma Street in Palo Alto Monday afternoon, police said.

The incident was reported by a parent of the victim at about 3:56 p.m. -- 20 minutes after the incident took place, according to police.

Officers responded to the area where the alleged sexual battery occurred but were unable to locate the man, described as a 40-year-old Hispanic male, about 5 feet 6 inches tall with a thin build. He had a short buzz cut, was unshaven and had a goatee. The man was wearing a black short-sleeved T-shirt and dark blue jeans.

Investigators said the girl was walking east through the tunnel when the man approached her from behind and grabbed her buttocks for a few seconds. The victim started screaming, police said, and the man ran west through the tunnel. The girl then walked home and told a parent about what had happened. She was not injured, police said.

She told police that the man smelled bad and had crooked teeth.

No sketch of the man is available at this time, but if one is produced, the police department will release it.

Detectives are investigating to determine if this incident is connected to any other cases in Palo Alto or surrounding communities.

Police advise the public to report suspicious activity by calling 911. Parents should remind children to remain alert at all times and to tell a trusted adult about anything they see that does not seem right, police said.

Police are asking that anyone with information about this incident call the department at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

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