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Police search for suspect in attempted sexual assault

Male suspect allegedly attacked woman near Berg Park

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
Darrell Ben
  • Wanted suspect is accused of throwing victim to ground and trying to remove her pants Friday afternoon.
  • Darrell Ben is accused of attempting to sexually assault a woman near Brook Haven Park West earlier this month.
  • Ben's preliminary hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Farmington Magistrate Court.

FARMINGTON — Farmington police are searching for a man who is accused of attempting to sexually assault a woman in Berg Park. The Incident happened a week after officers arrested a man in connection with a similar attack near Brook Haven Park West.

The Farmington Police Department seeks help in identifying a man accused of attacking a 25-year-old woman around 3 p.m. Friday on a secluded wooded trail on the south side of the Animas River and west of Rocky Reach Landing, according to spokeswoman Georgette Allen.

Detectives describe him as Native American, about six-feet-tall and with a thin build who was wearing a white bandana, a white long-sleeve shirt and black pants, according to a Farmington police press release.

The man is accused of approaching the victim from behind, throwing her to the ground and attempted to remove her pants before she could escape, according to Allen.

The victim was transported to San Juan Regional Medical Center, where she was treated for lacerations to her legs, arms and face.

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Police Chief Steve Hebbe said in the press release the police department has increased patrols in the area and urged all residents to exercise caution when traveling alone.

"You will see a noticeable increase in the number of officers present as we work to find this suspect and ensure the trails remain a safe place for everyone," Hebbe said in the press release.

Farmington police are encouraging anyone with information to contact its detective division at 505-599-1005, or San Juan County Crime Stoppers at 505-334-8477.

A similar incident took place earlier this month near Brook Haven Park West.

Darrell Ben, 39 of Chinle, Ariz. was arrested on the afternoon of July 14 and is accused of charges including attempt to commit criminal sexual penetration in the second degree (results in personal injury) and false imprisonment, according to court records.

Ben is accused of running up to the female victim, shoving her to the ground and holding her to the ground as he took off her clothes, law enforcement officials wrote in the probable cause statement.

The victim was walking south along the ditch from Brook Haven Park West towards West Main Street.

A male witness told police he arrived on the scene and yelled at Ben who was on top of the victim and restraining her.

The witness chased Ben along the trail and engaged in a brief fight with Ben before Ben ran away, according to court documents.

The witness took Ben's backpack from him during the scuffle. A half-consumed bottle of vodka was found during a search of the backpack.

Ben's preliminary hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Farmington Magistrate Court.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.