Toronto police have charged a 22-year-old man with seven counts of sexual assault, one of them an attack that took place two days ago.
The spate of alleged assaults in the past six months occurred within blocks of each other near Danforth and Pape avenues, where the accused also lives.
Staff Inspector Gary Ellis of the Toronto Police sex-crimes unit called the alleged attacker "good-looking and clean-cut but very dangerous and very bold." All but one assault was made in the middle of the street and in broad daylight. The second-to-last, which took place in August in a busy underground parking garage, was the most violent, Staff Insp. Ellis said.
Police said the complainants were women ranging in age from 18 to 48 and that all were wearing skirts at the time of the attacks.
The woman who reported being attacked in the parking garage gave police a description of a vehicle and enough physical detail for a composite drawing. Two weeks later, police announced they were looking for a late-model black Honda Acura.
In last Tuesday's assault at Pape and Strathcona avenues, the attacker spotted his victim while driving his car, then parked it in a space reserved for the handicapped.
A witness who could see no evidence that the driver was handicapped wrote down the licence number.
Police said the attacker approached the woman, grabbed her around the neck and threw her to the ground. But she screamed and fought, forcing him to let go.
As the woman and a witness chased the man through back yards and over fences, the woman screamed: "You can't run fast enough," Staff Insp. Ellis said.
The witness who saw the man parking in the handicapped spot saw him run back toward his car.
"The beauty of this case is there was a whole continuity of people from the area who kept a relay of the events," Staff Insp. Ellis said.
The sex-crimes unit is now talking to Ottawa police about whether similar attacks have been reported there.
Police said the man they arrested, Sean Alexander Mitchell, had lived in Ottawa for two years before moving to Toronto recently.
The victims are especially traumatized by the fact that the alleged assaults took place in public and in daylight, when they felt they were completely safe, Staff Insp. Ellis said.