Second sexual assault in a month reported at Santa Rosa's Howarth Park

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The second woman in a month was sexually assaulted in Santa Rosa’s Howarth Park on Sunday, according to police, who said they believe the two incidents are unconnected.

The Santa Rosa Police Department received a report of the most recent assault about 6:40 p.m. Sunday, from a bystander the victim flagged down for help after the attack.

The assault occurred on a park trail near the dead end on Sonoma Avenue and the woman did not know her assailant, Lt. Dan Marincik said.

Officers searched the park and the surrounding neighborhoods Sunday night but were unable to locate the suspect. Marincik said Tuesday that the department has no new updates on the investigation.

The victim was transported to and treated at a local hospital and then released.

The assault comes about a month after a 55-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in the bathroom near the gazebo on the lower level of Howarth Park the morning of Aug. 16. The suspect, Rusiate Waqa, 23, was arrested a few weeks later on suspicion of felony rape and kidnapping when DNA evidence connected him to the attack, Santa Rosa police said. Waqa was in custody at the time of Sunday’s attack.

“We don’t think there’s any type of pattern or any type of connection to the prior incident that was reported several weeks ago,” Marincik said of Sunday’s attack. “We don’t see this as a trend or some type of larger issue.”

Santa Rosa police are searching for any witnesses to Sunday’s attack or new evidence to help further the investigation, Marincik said. Police described the suspect as a 5-foot-9 white man in his 30s with a thin build, dark, medium-length hair and missing front teeth.

Anyone with information about Sunday’s attack is asked to call the Santa Rosa Police Department’s domestic violence and sexual assault unit at 707-543-3595.

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