Fears of serial sex predators targeting drunk women
AT least six, maybe many more, women have been raped or sexually assaulted on Ocean St in the past six months, raising fears of serial predators.
Sunshine Coast District CIB officer-in-charge Daren Edwards says in the passt six months he's aware of 4-6 sexual assaults including rape on Ocean St. Charges have not yet been laid.
On more than one occasion a woman has been assaulted after being offered a ride in an Uber or taxi.
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"There's been occasions where a female (has) been offered, you know 'do you want to get a lift? we're getting an Uber, we're going to go this way and would you like a lift?'," he said.
"And then, [she says] 'okay', and all of a sudden things go bad."
The Daily is aware of concerns there is a repeat offender on the loose, but Snr Sgt Edwards says that picture isn't emerging for police based on current information.
Specialist sexual assault counseling and support service Laurel Place is a first port of call for many assault survivors on the Sunshine Coast.
Executive director Karren Aspinall said she was concerned because she knew of "similarities" in the experiences of women sexually assaulted at Ocean St in the past eight months.
"If 75 per cent of incidents are not reported but we've had six in the last couple of months, what's that saying?" she said.
"It seems like it's getting worse, but it could just be that more people are reporting."
She urged the community to come forward to her organisation or police, with any information that could help investigators build a clearer picture of what was happening.
Snr Sgt Edwards said Ocean St had "a lot of intoxicated people" and while he believed licenced venues were supportive tackling the problem, more could be done.
Before kicking out women who were too intoxicated to be served more alcohol, security guards should find out whether they have friends and make sure they leave with them, he said.
Dimi Limnatitis says security guards at his four Ocean St businesses always accompany women who are asked to leave.
"I can promise you, at the Solbar, and every single one of our venues, that is our number one priority," he said.
"I'll sit next to people until their mum picks them up, or their boyfriend, or their husband."
A bold black and white poster released by police this week with the message "Just because she's drunk, doesn't mean she wants to f**k" will "absolutely" be put up at his venues, Mr Limnatitis said.
Sexual assault is also happening in private homes and public places, Snr Sgt Edwards said.
"Clearly there's behavioural problems ... for young males," he said.
"And whilst you can get accused of targeting young males ... unfortunately that's the common denominator."
Mr Limnatitis also suggested pop-up stalls at Ocean St and other entertainment areas with pamphlets about consent be set-up early on Friday and Saturday nights to help educate young men who "think what they're doing is okay".