Residents in Sleaford have spoken of their shock after a 13-year-old girl was indecently assaulted in woodland on Sunday.
Police are investigating the incident, which happened between 2pm and 3pm in woodland between St Edmunds Road and Ancaster Drive.
The girl was with her bicycle when she was approached by a man who then assaulted her.
The incident took place in the deeply wooded Goodson’s Holt, which is a popular haunt of children of all ages, dog walkers and families taking advantage of the green space on the outskirts of the town.
The offender is described as white, possibly aged in his late 50’s and about 5’6” tall, and of a slim or possibly athletic build.
He had grey hair, was clean shaven and he wore black knee-length shorts with a plain grey tee shirt.
Ben Frazer, 26, who went to St George’s School in Sleaford and was brought up in the town before moving to live in Kettering, said he was shocked to hear of the attack.
“I am back visiting my family and my girlfriend who lives just around the corner off London Road. I can’t remember anything like this ever happening before in Sleaford,” he said.
“We all played in there as kids and I used to collect firewood.
“Most people in Sleaford will be really shocked because it is only a few years since the footpaths were opened up by the council.
“It’s a crazy thing to happen, especially at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon.”
Mum-of-two and grandmother to four Lucy Vickers, 58, of St Edmunds Road, said she was shocked.
“When my grandchildren come visiting I take them for a run through the woods on their scooters.
“This has put me right off because I also walk round there on my own. I have lived here for 41 years and this just doesn’t happen.”
Alice Grout, 76, who lives just down the road in Quarrington, said: “We walk the dogs through there a lot.
“I go with my husband and nobody has ever approached us in there. I suppose we go through Goodson’s Holt at least twice a week.
"This is just a dog walking area and until now I thought it was safe to take my grandchildren through there.”
Retired care home administrator Jim Barnes lives almost opposite the Holt in London Road.
"This is the first I've heard of it and it happened on Sunday?" Mr Barnes said.
"It's really strange because I was out in the garden all day on Sunday and never saw or heard any activity involving police vehicles.
"This has really caught me on the hop because I've lived here for three decades and it's always been a short-cut.
"We've all done our playing in there, picking dandelions to feed to the rabbits.
"I'm really surprised we've not heard anything about this attack before now."