Jogging on a popular route in northern Sonoma, a 24‑year‑old woman was attacked from behind, punched and sexually assaulted by a bushy-bearded suspect who remained at large Monday, according to a Sonoma County sheriff’s spokesman.

The Easter Sunday assault came on Norrbom Road, near the Sonoma Overlook Trail and not far from youth sports fields, said sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum.

As the Sonoma Valley woman jogged along the east side of the roadway in the early afternoon, a man yelled at her and then suddenly pushed her from behind, knocking her to the ground, she told detectives.

The man, who she described as having a white bushy beard and strong body odor, fell on top of her. She said he punched her repeatedly in the face and then reached inside her clothing in an attempt to rape her, Crum said.

Fighting back, she escaped and called 911 on her cellphone. The 1:15 p.m. assault report launched an extensive search just north of the historic Sonoma Plaza, from First Street West up into the hills along Norrbom Road and including Mountain Cemetery and the trail.

The sheriff’s helicopter, a Santa Rosa police dog, deputies and police officers looked for the man, described as being in his 50s, wearing a black zip‑up hooded sweatshirt, a black sweater, dirty jeans and a black beanie.

No suspect was found. The Sheriff’s Office didn’t report the crime for 24 hours. Crum said the delay was due to detectives working on leads and hoping to make an arrest.

Deputies have increased patrols in the area, including walking the trail on Monday, said Sonoma Police Chief Bret Sackett. Sackett said such crimes are very rare in the area.

The area is just outside city limits. It’s typically busy with joggers and walkers on the overlook trail, which offers views of the Sonoma Valley. It’s also steps from Arnold Field’s baseball and softball diamonds, Depot Park and the city police department.

“On a nice summer day, it’s packed with people,” said Crum.

Sunday afternoon was rainy and gray and no witnesses have come forward. Law enforcement officials warned anyone walking or jogging in the area to take precautions and report anyone suspicious.

The woman, who wasn’t identified due to the nature of the case, was taken to a hospital and released after being checked for injuries. Detectives interviewed her Sunday and again on Monday, Crum said.

Crum asked anyone with information to call detectives at 707-565-2185.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com.