• Police: Woman forced into backyard, sexually battered in New Smyrna Beach


    NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - Investigators are looking for a man accused of forcing a woman into a backyard of a New Smyrna Beach home and then sexually battering her.

    Police said a man dragged the woman into the backyard of a home in the 400 block of Peninsula Avenue and raped her. The woman then called 911 and was taken to the Rape Crisis Center for an examination, officials said.

    Investigators have given out few details, including whether the victim was able to give them any kind of a description.

    Most who know New Smyrna Beach travel on Peninsula Avenue to get to Flagler Avenue, a popular stretch of road known for its shops, restaurants and nightlife.

    "We all kind of look out for each other," said resident Jim Spears. "We know each other and you know, we all have a lot of events downtown on Flagler Avenue, so there's a of people coming and going."

    Spears said he's on alert after word of the sexual assault began to spread on Tuesday.

    "We've been here 14 years and I'm not aware of any violent crime, so that was surprising," he said.

    "(It's a ) very safe neighborhood," said resident Cathy Hartman. "I've lived here for over seven years. Very safe. People walk their dogs and babies."

    Investigators say the victim was with Seminole County Firefighter Paramedics prior to the assault. Police said those she was with were interviewed as witnesses, but no other details have been released.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 888-277- TIPS (8477).

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    Police: Woman forced into backyard, sexually battered in New Smyrna Beach