November 22, 2014

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By Marianne Apfelbaum
Observer staff

A report of a “suspicious male” who appeared at a school bus stop on Friday prompted Chittenden South Supervisory Union officials to send a warning letter to parents about the man.

A female Champlain Valley Union High School student, who believed she had missed the bus Friday morning, started walking back toward her home when a “man appeared from behind some bushes,” according to the letter from Sean McMannon, CVU’s principal.

Upon seeing the man, the teen screamed and ran, and the man “started running up the road,” according to Vermont State Police Trooper James Mitchell.

The incident occurred about 100 feet from the girl’s home on State Park Road near Route 7 in Charlotte, Mitchell said. According to Mitchell, the man came out of the bushes from a field across the road from the girl’s home. Mitchell acknowledged that it is somewhat unusual for someone to be walking through a field in the dark so early in the morning, but said the man could have been hunting, or taking a walk after getting coffee at a nearby Mobil station.

“It is too hard to speculate,” he said.

Mitchell said the man did not try to approach the girl, and emphasized that he did not commit a crime, but police would like to identify him so “the family and the community don’t have to worry.”

The man was described as tall, thin and wearing jeans, Mitchell said, but because it was 6:45 a.m. and still dark outside, it was hard for the girl to see the man clearly.

Mitchell suggested that students waiting for the bus try not to wait alone. Mike Lavoie, a detective with the Williston Police Department, concurred, and pointed out the importance of making noise and fighting back if necessary if a stranger approaches. “Holler, kick, throw your backpack at them, whatever you need to do,” he said.

Lavoie also said self-defense courses are helpful. A basic self-defense course for women is offered by the Essex Police Department through Essex Parks and Recreation. Called R.A.D for Rape Aggression Defense, the course is intended for females who wish to learn survival techniques and “what to do physically and mentally to make it through an attack by an aggressor,” according to the Parks and Recreation Web site. The course fee is $15, with online registration at www.essexparksandrec.org.

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