By Laura Hayes, Contributing Writer
MARLBOROUGH — The Marlborough Police Department has been ramping up its patrols of the Assabet River Rail Trail after a 35-year-old man was arrested earlier this month for allegedly attempting to assault a woman on the trail.
“We’ve been on the rail trail a little more,” Marlborough Community Officer Keith Moro recently told the Community Advocate.
Moro and fellow Community Policing Officer Borden Wicks already conducted bike patrols of the rail trail before the assault. In the days and weeks since, though, they’ve been doing longer, more frequent patrols, Moro said.
Just before 6:30 a.m. June 7, a woman told officers that she was walking on the rail trail near the intersection of Fitchburg Street and Sasseville Way when a man reportedly grabbed her and pushed her to the ground.
According to police, the victim screamed and defended herself when the man tried to pull off her clothes before she was able to break free.
She had minor injuries to her mouth and leg. The man fled, and the woman was able to capture video of him.
Police shared that video on social media, as well as photos captured from nearby surveillance cameras, as they asked the public for help identifying and locating their suspect.
Police announced that evening that a man named Jonathan Parker had been arrested in connection with the attack.
Moro said he couldn’t recall a similar incident like the assault “as far as a physical attack or near abduction” on the rail trail.
“To me, it’s a safe area,” he said, adding that he doesn’t patrol it eight hours a day.
The next day, Moro was patrolling the rail trail when a woman stopped him and asked what she could do to better prepare herself.
He said the woman had both of her earbuds in and her phone on.
“Honestly, that’s one of the worst things you can do,” Moro said.
He explained that while people love to listen to their music while working out, it makes it difficult to focus on your surroundings, especially as portions of the rail trail are secluded. Noise-canceling headphones are even worse, he said.
Moro recommended those using the rail trail pull one earbud out or not listen to music. Make sure to frequently look behind you, he added.
Moro also recommended individuals concerned about their safety carry bear spray, a stick or a whistle.
“You blow that thing and it’s a piercing whistle noise,” he said.