Scottsdale police are searching for a man who they say attempted to sexually assault a female employee at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea hospital early Thursday when she went outside for a cigarette break.
Police and hospital security staff are reviewing videotape from security cameras.
The hospital worker, in her mid-20s, reported that she was attacked from behind by an unknown assailant about 3:30 a.m. outside the east side of the building. He ripped her clothes before she was able to escape to the emergency room, detective Sam Bailey said.
The woman was treated and released later in the day, hospital spokesman Keith Jones said.
Police believe the attacker snuck up on the woman from a greenbelt area next to the hospital at 9003 E. Shea Blvd., as she was sitting with her back to him.
“This was an obvious attempt of a sexual assault,” Bailey said. “We don’t believe enough evidence is there for a full sexual assault, but we believe that’s where it was heading.”
Bailey said that the assailant likely is white with a stocky build with a little bit of a belly, and that police plan to question the woman again in a few days.
“When these things happen, often the victims are traumatized,” Bailey said. “Maybe a day or two later, she’ll be able to give enough of a description for detectives to make a composite of the assailant.”
The hospital circulated a memo Thursday morning about the assault, and what precautions to take when leaving the buildings, Jones said.
“The hospital is patrolled 24 hours a day, and this is the first time something like this has happened in the 13 years that I’ve been here,” Jones said.
A statement issued by the hospital Thursday on behalf of Scottsdale Healthcare president Tom Sadvary said the hospital will increase security.
The statement also encouraged personal escorts for people going to and from their vehicles during evening and early morning hours.
Police made six arrests on suspicion of rape in February, according to statistics released by the department.
Of the 63 reported rapes in Scottsdale last year, none were committed by a stranger to the victim, according to Bailey and police Sgt. Mark Clark.