Police are now investigating TWO sexual assaults on women on a canal towpath in Rodley on Saturday morning.
And a THIRD woman has reported how a man tried to grab her around the same time.
Police have already appealed for information over an attack at 8.20am on Saturday, which saw a 40-year-old female runner grabbed and dragged to the ground on the steps from the A6120 Leeds Outer Ring Road to the Leeds Liverpool Canal.
She struggled with him and managed to fight him off and he ran away along the ring road towards Rodley roundabout.
He is believed to have gone down Rodley Lane through a cut-through into Oaklands Grove and onto Oaklands Road before doubling back on to Bagley Lane.
The suspect was described as black, aged in his late teens to early twenties, about 5ft 8ins to 5ft 10ins, slim build, clean shaven with a roundish face. He was wearing a grey lightweight anorak or padded jacket, which had the hood pulled up, grey jogging bottoms and white trainers.
It is possible he may have injuries to his face from the struggle.
Police today linked the attack with a sexual assault on a woman shortly before the incident.
A 48-year-old woman who was walking her dog on the towpath in the same area was sexually assaulted by a similarly described man as he walked past her.
At about the same time a 25-year-old woman who was out running was approached by the suspect. He put out his hand but she managed to avoid him before approaching a passer-by for help.
Detective Inspector Steve Greenbank, of Leeds District CID, said:
“These have clearly been very frightening incidents for the women involved and we urgently need to trace this man.
“We are currently carrying out extensive enquiries in an effort to identify and arrest him at the earliest opportunity. We would like to hear from anyone who witnessed any of these incidents or who saw the suspect in the area either around the time of these incidents or at any other time.
“The canal towpath is a well-used route that is popular with runners and dog-walkers and we fully appreciate the heightened concerns there will be among people in the area.”
DI Greenbank said officers from the local neighbourhood policing team have been mounting increased patrols of the area to try reassure local residents. He added:
“We are aware of understandable speculation on social media that these incidents are linked to a series of sexual assaults in Harehills and Burmantofts in early September. Two men have been arrested in connection with that investigation and there is nothing at this stage to suggest any link to the offences in Rodley.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Leeds District CID via 101 quoting crime number 13160454118 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.