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A cyclist has been charged with 12 s*xual assaults after allegedly grabbing women on walking trails.
Joshua Etchells, 19, of Lowton Road, Sale, faces 12 counts of sexual assault for touching women on the walking paths in Manchester and Cheshire.
It is alleged that he approached the women from behind while riding a mountain bike.
There is concern that there could be seven similar linked sexual assaults that occurred around the Bridgewater Canal in Manchester.
The suspect remains in custody and will appear in Manchester Magistrates Court on Monday.
The Etchells charges related to Operation Carbon, which is an investigation established by Greater Manchester Police in response to a series of reports of sexual assault in the Trafford and Cheshire area between March 1-7.
A 28-year-old man was arrested last week on suspicion of sexual assault, but he has since been released without further action, detectives said.
Officers have been working with Cheshire Police, who said they received reports of three women being groped by a passing cyclist on the Trans Pennine Trail in Lymm.
The attacks occurred last weekend, the first occurring on March 6 and two other similar incidents the following day.
In each incident, a woman was inappropriately touched by a mountain biker as she passed.
There is concern that they may be linked to seven similar sexual assaults around the Bridgewater canal in Manchester.
A Cheshire Police spokesman said: “We have received reports of a man sexually assaulting women on the Trans Pennine Trail in Lymm over the weekend.
On all three occasions reported to us, the suspect approached the victims from behind on a mountain bike, before touching them inappropriately as he passed.
“We are taking these incidents seriously as they are causing distress to those who have been targeted by this man and we understand the concern he is causing in the community.
“Since Monday, we have been patrolling the area and are working with GMP who have been reported similar incidents.
“ Anyone who sees suspicious behavior should contact the police at 101 or 999 if there is a crime in action. ”
Greater Manchester Police Detective Inspector Dave Jones said: “Events like this can cause great distress and discomfort to those involved.
‘We understand the concern and concern that this can cause to the wider community as well.
A 28-year-old man was arrested last week on suspicion of sexual assault but he has since been released with no further action, detectives said
‘I want to assure you that we are taking these reports incredibly seriously and that we have currently increased police patrols in the area.
“ We will appeal to anyone who may have any concerns or information related to these incidents to come forward and assist the police with our investigations.
We would also like to take this opportunity to appeal to anyone else who feels they may also have been the target of a similar assault to come forward and speak to the police.
‘Your report or concerns will be treated with the utmost seriousness and sensitivity.
“There is also a range of specialized support services available throughout Greater Manchester.”
Joshua Etchells Quicks And Facts
- Etchells, 19, of Lowton Road, Sale, faces 12 counts of sexual assault by touching
- It is alleged he approached women from behind while riding a mountain bike
- Suspect remains in custody and will appear at Manchester Magistrates Court