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The victim, who is under 16, was attacked on a wooded path near Farnley Academy in Leeds at around 3.30pm on Wednesday. Police said the youngster was subjected to a serious sexual assault before she managed to break free and flee to safety.
The suspect is described as a tall white man in his 40s with short brown hair.
Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them.
Temporary Detective Superintendent Tony Nicholson, of West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said: “We are treating this incident very seriously and have specialist safeguarding officers supporting the victim while we continue to establish the full circumstances.
“We are carrying out extensive enquiries and would like to hear from anyone who witnessed any part of the incident or who has any information that could assist the investigation, particularly if they saw anyone fitting the description of the suspect in the area around the time of the offence.
“We recognise that an incident of this nature next to a local school will cause understandable concern in the community.
“We are working closely with our colleagues on the local neighbourhood policing team who are increasing their patrols of the area to reassure people and linking with key local contacts to keep them updated.”
Farnley Academy Principal Chris Stokes alerted parents to the incident in a letter.
He said: ”I am writing to advise you that a person under the age of 16 has been subjected to a serious sexual assault in the wooded area next to school.
“A police investigation is taking place in relation to the incident.
“At the end of the day, today, we will be deploying additional members of staff into the area to ensure that students are able to proceed through the woods safely.”
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The area was cordoned off for forensic examination and specialist searches.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team via 101 quoting crime reference 13220007121 or online via www.westyorkshire.police.uk/101livechat
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