A 21-year-old North Laurel woman was attacked and raped early yesterday as she got out of her car at an apartment complex, Howard County police said.
The woman was treated at Howard County General Hospital and released yesterday. Police said she was the county's 13th rape victim this year -- a pace that indicates such crimes are still on the increase in the county.
According to police, the woman had just left her car in the 9600 block of Barrel House Road in North Laurel when a man grabbed her about 3:30 a.m.
Police said she struggled with the man as he tried to drag her away, but she could not get loose. The man struck her and dragged her to a nearby wooded area in the 9700 block of Whiskey Run.
There, police said, the man sexually assaulted the woman and punched her several times in the face and head. Afterward, he ran east on North Laurel Road near the Whiskey Bottom Shopping Center.
The woman ran to her home and called police about 3:50 a.m. She told police she did not know her attacker.
No arrests had been made yesterday, though police managed to get a description from the victim. The attacker was described as a 6-foot black man in his 20s, with a muscular build and short hair. He wore a black Starter jacket, baggy blue jeans and a green dress shirt.
Police said they do not know where the man was hiding before he attacked the woman.
Last year, the county witnessed a 45 percent increase in rapes, from 20 in 1993 to 29 in 1994. Also, there were two attempted rapes last year, according to Howard County police statistics.
Yesterday, county police, the Howard County state's attorney's office and the Howard County Sexual Assault Center issued a joint news release cautioning people about the risks of acquaintance rape.
Last year, they said police investigated 177 sexual assaults. In 97 percent of those cases, victims knew their assailants, the groups said. Alcohol and drugs played a role in three-quarters of those cases.
Last year, Howard County ranked only behind Carroll County for the fewest number of rapes in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Baltimore City and Prince George's County had the highest number of rapes in the entire state with 640 and 420 respectively, according to 1994 state police records.
In addition to rape, more than 200 other acts of sexual assault occur in Howard County each year, said Sheri DePetro, director of the county Sexual Assault Center.
Ms. DePetro's office provides counseling, crisis intervention and other help to victims of rape, attempted rape, sex offenses and child sexual abuse.
"It's a serious problem," she said. "People still don't think these things happen in Howard County."
Anyone with information on the most recent attack should call Howard County police at 313-3700 or the Metro Crime Stoppers Hotline at 276-8888 to qualify for a reward of up to $2,000.