Schoolgirl attack was not the first incident

01:46, Jun 22 2011

The principal of a 12-year-old girl who kicked a man in the groin after he grabbed her as she walked to school in Ponsonby yesterday says it was the second attack in two months. 

St Mary's College principal Sandy Pasley said she was ''extremely shocked'' and was warning all students to take precautions while walking to and from school.

Sergeant Paul Black of Ponsonby police said the man had grabbed the girl's arm from behind and asked her to come with him as she walked to St Mary's College.

She then kneed him in the groin and fled the short distance to school after the incident at around 7.45am.

Pasley said the girl was ''one of our lovely year 8 students".

''Just self-assured and got it together really. I think she showed great presence of mind.''

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However Pasley said she was worried by the incident and was reassuring students.

''I think there is something quite precious about students being able to walk to school unharmed, especially in daylight hours. At any time it should be a right that any student in New Zealand has.''

She said the school had issued a warning to students to take sensible precautions in the wake of the latest attack.

''We are just explaining the safety of walking with friends, or if they can't walk with friends because they're walking in different directions, then walk where there are a lot of people around.

''Another thing we've explained in the past is not to have ear phones in their ears so they're aware of what's going on around them.''

Pasley said she had spoken with the girl yesterday morning.

''She was upset but she was dealing with it well given the circumstances.

''I told her how proud I was of how she reacted, to take control of the situation and get away really.''

Pasley said another student had experienced a similar incident a couple of months ago.

''She was an older girl and handled herself well too.''

Pasley said while they had contacted the police she was not aware if they had caught the man in the first incident.

It is unclear whether the same man was involved in both incidents.

Yesterday police said they were looking for a man thought to be in his late 40s, with "unkempt" silvery-grey hair that stretched down to the middle of his back.

He is described as having an "unusual complexion", with his skin an "orangey" colour, making him look as though he was wearing fake tan.

He was between 170 and 177 centimetres tall with a scrawny build.

He was wearing an ill-fitting grey hooded sweatshirt with pockets on the front and seemed to slur when he spoke.

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