Sexual assault on girl, 12, at Latrobe

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A 12-YEAR-OLD girl who endured a horrifying abduction and sexual assault on the North-West Coast is being described as "exceedingly brave" by detectives involved in the case.

The girl was walking through Latrobe on Tuesday afternoon when a man aged between 20 and 30 dragged her into a van.

She was then driven to Old Deloraine Road where the man pulled over to the side of a gravel road and sexually assaulted the girl.

He then drove to Shale Road, Latrobe, where the child was released.

The incident happened about 4pm.

"She has been exceedingly brave all day and assisted us as much as she can," Burnie CIB's Detective Inspector Rob Gunton said.

"To date this is an isolated incident and we will investigate with every resource available to us.

"People need to take the usual precautions with their children and make them aware of stranger danger."

The incident provoked a strong reaction on the Tasmania Police Facebook page yesterday when news of it broke.

"It's absolutely disgusting that people aren't able to walk around by themselves without some sort of horrible danger! What is the world coming to! Makes me so angry," one user wrote.

Another poster said : "All the more reason to teach our kids about stranger danger ... I hope the little girl is OK".

Some of the more extreme comments called for a vigilante type response.

Two hundred comments were posted to the report in a matter of hours.

The offender is described as having a thin build and being about 175 centimetres tall.

He was wearing a grey hooded windcheater at the time.

He has a pale complexion and did not have any facial hair.

His vehicle was dark grey and is believed to have been a people mover-type van.

The vehicle had a child car seat or restraint fitted to one of the rear seats.

"We would like to hear from anyone who observed either this type of vehicle or a man fitting the description in the Latrobe area, particularly in the vicinity of Old Deloraine Road or Shale Road, Latrobe, around 4pm on Tuesday," Detective Inspector Gunton said.

Anybody with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Tasmania Police on 131 444.

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