ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Update Thursday, Dec. 7:
Anchorage police released a photo of the suspect in a sexual assault that reportedly took place in a Burlington Coat Factory dressing room.
Police are looking for a man they say sexually assaulted a woman in the dressing room of a local store.
In the release, police described the man as a short man, between 5-foot-3 inches and 5-foot-5 inches tall, with a very pointy noise. They also noted the victim said the skin on the suspect's face was so white she thought he may have had makeup on.
Original Story Wednesday, Dec. 6:
A 19-year-old Anchorage woman says she was sexually assaulted Friday in the women’s dressing room of Burlington Coat Factory at the Northway Mall.
It was 9:32 p.m. and the woman had stopped at the department store to buy leggings, she told KTUU. She stepped into a stall in the women’s dressing room, which appeared to be vacant. But as the woman changed, she heard the familiar click of a cell phone camera.
A man in the neighboring stall was holding a phone over the partition, taking pictures she said. The woman tried to cover herself and, according to the Anchorage Police Department, the man attempted to grab her breast.
“I hit his arm away and I was like, ‘Don’t touch me, don’t touch me. Get away from me,’” the woman said. “When he walked out of the stall, he was completely naked from the waist down. And he was touching himself.”
Anchorage police say the man grabbed the woman’s crotch before fleeing the store.
“I hit his hand away and I punched the back of him,” the woman said. She agreed to speak with Channel 2 about the encounter in order to warn other women and urge stores to provide oversight of dressing rooms.
“My main thing is that nobody was around the fitting room for at least 10 to 15 minutes,” she said. The dressing room area had appeared to be un-staffed and no one immediately came to her aid, she said.
KTUU has agreed to protect her identity as an apparent victim of sexual assault. Police have made no arrest in the case of Wednesday afternoon and have not obtained surveillance photos of the man.
The woman said a theft prevention officer for the store showed her a photo of a man who had been caught trying to steal clothing from the women’s dressing room days earlier. It looked like the same man who exposed himself to her and grabbed her, she said.
The man was short, about 5-feet tall to 5-foot, 5 inches with brown hair. The woman said she at first thought he was a child until she saw his facial hair. He wore a blue winter coat.
A manager for the store declined to comment, other than to say the store was cooperating with police, and referred questions to corporate headquarters. No official for the company returned multiple phone calls and emails about the case.
“You feel violated in every type of way,” the woman said. “I don’t want it to happen to somebody else. I feel like a fitting room is somewhere you’re not supposed to be scared.”