SUSPECT AT LARGE IN BEACH LEWDNESS CASE

patrolA police car trawls the sidewalk along the sea wall near the entrance to Sandy Hook Sunday night. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic rightA deployment of police, search dogs and two helicopters failed to find a suspect wanted for exposing himself to a woman on the beach at Sandy Hook Sunday night, authorities said.

The case, which was originally described as a sexual assault on police radios, was not a sexual assault because it did not involve intimate contact, said National Park System spokesman John Warren.

The suspect, however, did masturbate over the victim and at one point grabbed her by the jacket, adding a potential assault charge if he is caught.

According to Warren, the incident was reported at about 8:40 p.m. after the unidentified woman, who had been lying on the sand at Beach C, looked up to see a man masturbating above her.

The woman screamed and the offender grabbed her by the jacket before fleeing on foot, Warren said.

Several witnesses saw the commotion and the man running away along the beach in the park, which is open until 10 p.m. this time of year, Warren said.

Police from Highlands and Sea Bright responded to assist U.S. Park Rangers in their hunt for the suspect. K-9 units from Hazlet and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s office were brought in, and two helicopters one from New York City, one from Monmouth County scoured he peninsula until about 1 a.m. Monday, Warren said.

“We take the safety of our visitors that seriously,” Warren said.

The suspect, a description of whom authorities are withholding, was not found, and the investigation is continuing, Warren said.

The park gets two million visits a year, Warren said.