Girl 'incredibly brave' despite much trauma

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DEVONPORT police have praised the actions of a 12-year- old girl following an incident that saw her sexually assaulted by an unknown offender on Tuesday afternoon.

Devonport detective- inspector Rob Gunton said the girl and her family had been "incredibly brave" throughout the whole process despite the incident causing "considerable trauma".

The girl was walking along a grassed area at south Latrobe after 4pm when a man approached her in a dark-grey people-mover-type car.

"He asked her how she was doing and she said `good' and kept on walking, that was when he grabbed her from behind," Detective Inspector Gunton said.

The girl was then forced into a dark-grey people mover van and driven to the isolated rural area of Old Deloraine Road, where the man sexually assaulted the girl.

She was then driven to Shale Road where she was released by the man.

Detective Inspector Gunton said there didn't appear to be any existing relationship between the man and the girl but said the investigation was ongoing.

The girl was taken to the Launceston General Hospital following the assault and underwent sexual assault treatment tests.

The girl was also treated for lacerations and bruising to the face but was released from hospital.

Yesterday, Devonport CIB detectives released an image of the man given to them from a description provided by the girl, but said the image was hampered due to the girl not seeing the man's entire face.

"He had the hood of the jumper pulled tight across his face," Detective Inspector Gunton said.

"And he was wearing sunglasses that covered his eyes and his eyebrows. The girl said she didn't see his hair or his ears."

Detective Inspector Gunton said a witness had already come forward who had seen the car in the area at the time of the incident but said more witnesses would be welcome.

He said the public should be aware but not alarmed, even though the offender was still at large.

Police presence around the Latrobe area has increased in marked and unmarked patrols and Detective Inspector Gunton said a police presence would continue until the offender was identified and charged.

Detectives were doorknocking in the area yesterday in an attempt to glean more information about the incident.

The man was described as between 20-30 years old, about 175 centimetres tall with a thin build. At the time the man was wearing a grey hooded jumper, he had a pale complexion with no facial hair. The vehicle the girl was forced into could be a people mover-type car with a child car seat or restraint in the rear. Anyone who may have seen the car or the man, or who believes they know the identity of the man, is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800333000.

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