Woman says she was groped on bus: ‘I just froze, I didn’t know how to react’

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SEATTLE -- A woman says it was the longest bus ride of her life. She was frozen in fear, as a man in the next seat started groping her. But she was able to get a photo of him, and she’s hoping he’ll get caught.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is now investigating and wants to talk to the man in the photo. They said they are also trying to see if the assault was caught on bus surveillance cameras.

When Alicia Sabovik got off work Wednesday night, she got on the 511 bus to head home to Lynnwood.

“This man got on the bus a couple stops after I did, and sat next to me on an empty bus. Which I thought was a little bit strange, but didn't really think anything of it.”

But she says he started pushing his leg against hers, and then got a shirt out of his backpack.

“He tented the shirt over himself, so you couldn't see his hands. And no one else around could see his hand. And then it started, groping my leg and rubbing on my leg.”

Alicia says she knows she should have yelled or fought back, but she was too scared.

“I just froze and I didn't know how to react. I was worried he might have a knife and what if he attacks me if i say something?”

For an hour, she endured the assault.

Then she remembered the story about a woman who was groped on a downtown street last fall. Julia Marquand took a picture of the groper and posted it on social media.

“If you think you can prey on people and get away with it, you’re being watched,” Marquand said at the time.

Alicia says she was inspired, and decided to confront the man next to her.

“I just turned towards him and took his picture and you could see he was visibly afraid.”

Retired police sergeant Jesus Villahermosa is glad Alicia took action. But he says she could have done more if she had been mentally prepared.

“I always like to tell people, a crisis is not the time to be crisis planning.”

He says self-defense classes are great. But they mainly focus on what a woman should do physically if they’re in danger.

“You have to mentally rehearse when I’m walking to my car, what would I do if something happened?”

Alicia says she’s already come up with a plan to get through her future bus rides in peace.

“Hopefully that won't happen,” she says. “But if it does, I think I’ll be prepared.”

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is now investigating, and trying to see if the assault was caught on bus surveillance cameras.

If you have information on the suspect, you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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