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Be 'cautious and aware' when outdoors, Linn County law enforcement officials urge

Reminder comes after woman reports attack in Mount Vernon park

Following the report of an attack last week in a Mount Vernon park, law enforcement officials are reminding people heading outdoors to be “cautious and aware” of their surroundings.

“This seems to be a random and opportunistic attack that happened in the afternoon,” Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said, referring to the Wednesday attack.

“You would like to think you’re safe, but sometimes, there are just dangerous people out there, looking to take advantage of someone,” he added.

Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner noted that more people are going outside because of warmer weather, and “we need to remind each other to be safe when outside and alone. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. The more that you are aware, the less vulnerable you make yourself.”

Vander Sanden said the 20-year-old woman was able to give a detailed description of the man she said attacked her about 4 p.m. Tuesday in Nature Park in Mount Vernon. The prosecutor commended Mount Vernon police, along with Lisbon officers, who quickly apprehended the suspect.

Dustin Gerald Platner, 39, of Clarence, was charged Thursday in Linn County District Court with one count of second-degree sexual abuse. A criminal complaint shows Platner threatened the woman with a knife, removed some of her clothing and sexually assaulted her.

During the attack, the woman was able to break away from Platner, run to her vehicle and contact authorities, according to the complaint.

He was found a short time later in near the park.

The woman was taken to a hospital, where she was treated and released, police said.

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Platner remains in the Linn County Jail on a $50,000 bail. Sixth Judicial Associate District Judge Nicholas Scott also issued a no-contact order against him.

Police are asking anyone who may have been at the Nature Park the day of the attack, or others who may have information related to this investigation, to call the Mount Vernon Police Department at (319) 895-6141.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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