Bloomington police searching for suspect in alleged rape of homeless woman

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WTHR) - An alleged rape in Bloomington has police searching for the man responsible.

Police say the woman was beaten up and raped along West 3rd Street near SR 37 on the west side of Bloomington early Wednesday morning.

Investigators say the rape of a homeless woman in her 30s by a still unidentified stranger is the kind of rape they don't usually see. But one businessperson in the area told Eyewitness News, "Unfortunately, it was a matter of time at this point."

According to police, the man was walking on the north side of West 3rd Street around 3 a.m. Wednesday when he started walking toward a woman on the other side of the road. He asked for a cigarette and she gave him one.

But for her act of kindness, the woman was punched in the face and abdomen and fell to the ground. Police say the man dragged the victim behind a car repair shop and raped her.

"In 80 percent of sexual assault cases, the perpetrator is known and trusted," said Sarah Hunt with Middle Way House, which helps victims of domestic and sexual violence.

But in this case, the man was a stranger, described as a white male who looked to be in his 20s or 30s. The victim said her attacker's full beard appeared to be groomed.

People who work along West 3rd Street say they've had problems with people recently evicted from a homeless camp in the woods nearby. In this case, a homeless person became the victim.

"Shock. You don't expect something like that to happen," said one woman at a nearby business. "Too many people with nowhere to go and nothing else to do. She just had no way of being safe."

Suzanne Hampton stopped to pick up supplies at a nearby store. She reacted, too.

"I think it’s horrible and I just...I do all my grocery shopping before dark. Let’s put it that way. You just never know. Nothing is safe anymore. Nothing," Hampton said.

"We will oftentimes see an uptick in people calling our 24/7 help in crisis line. Discussions such as this and news focus can bring re-traumatization...kind of trigger things," Hunt said.

So Middle Way House in Bloomington is ready with services and a ready ear to hear and help recent victims and any survivor that needs to talk.

That 24/7 help and crisis line number is 812-336-0846.

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