Sheriff's Office investigates third-party report of sexual assault at Bluffton apartment

tbarton@islandpacket.comFebruary 20, 2012 

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A woman walking her dog in a Bluffton apartment complex was sexually assaulted Friday morning, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office was told by another woman who learned of the incident from the victim.Sheriff's deputies were called to a Bluffton apartment by a 21-year-old woman who said a family member told her she was walking her dog in the Estate at Westbury at about 8:30 a.m. when a man walked up behind her, put an object to her back -- possibly a handgun -- and forced her into an apartment, where he sexually assaulted her. She then fled, according to the woman.

The victim declined to cooperate with investigators, who have no description of a suspect or other details to substantiate the report, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sgt. Robin McIntosh said.

"There's not a lot of information to go on, but we'll pursue it to the best of our ability," McIntosh said. "If this did occur and was a random act, as reported, we want to let that community know so they can take appropriate caution."

She said residents should use the report as a reminder to be cognizant of their surroundings, day or night, and report suspicious people and activity.

The assault report follows an incident in which two masked men robbed an Estate at Westbury security guard at gunpoint as she patrolled the community on foot Wednesday. The same week, dozens of residents of neighboring Westbury Park had items stolen from their unlocked vehicles, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Residents of the Estate at Westbury organized a neighborhood watch in November, a month after two people were robbed at gunpoint. The Sheriff's Office also has increased patrols of the area.

Jose Fuentes, vice president of complex's homeowners association board, said Monday the board has tried to make the community safer and is looking at all "feasible, effective" options to improve security, including surveillance cameras.

"We really are trying to do everything we can to improve the property," Fuentes said. "We're looking into how we can improve the presence of security guards to have people in place that can help the community and keep these things from happening."

The board installed exterior lighting, and work recently began on a fence and "No Trespassing" signs around the property, which abuts a wooded area and Simmonsville Road, Fuentes said.

Anyone with information about the alleged sexual assault is asked to contact Sgt. A. Viens at 843-255-3406 or the Beaufort County Dispatch Center at 843-524-2777.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.

Related Content

  1. Bluffton security guard robbed at gunpoint Wednesday evening at Westbury apartments: Feb. 16, 2012
  2. Rash of car break-ins spreads to more Bluffton-area neighborhoods, Feb. 15, 2012
  3. Fed-up Estates at Westbury residents organize watch, Nov. 13, 2011
  4. Second Westbury apartment resident robbed at gunpoint, Oct. 13, 2011
  5. Man robbed at gunpoint outside apartment, Oct. 10, 2011

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