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Chief Radzilowski: BPD should have told public about earlier rape case

BRADENTON -- Bradenton Police Department Chief Michael Radzilowski today said that in hindsight, he wishes he had gone with his gut and issued a press release about a 15-year-old girl who was raped Jan. 31 while walking home from school.

The girl was assaulted when she was grabbed from behind by a man in the 4900 block of 47th Avenue West, according to the Bradenton Police Department.

She was sexually assaulted and then the man fled.

Radzilowski said he followed a request from his detectives to not release information about the case -- even though it was the second case in Manatee in two months of a girl being attacked in daylight while walking. (The girl in the earlier attack was not raped.)

“Our investigators had a sound argument that I still cannot disclose,” Radzilowski said. “The investigators talked me out of it.”

Information about the rape was not released to the public until Friday, after a third attack a day earlier in which a 12-year-old girl a day was assaulted in the 5500 block of 26th Street West.

Authorities said the suspect matched a description of the attacker in the Jan. 31 case and in the earlier attack on Nov. 29 in the 5100 block of 51st Street West.

“It’s not like we were trying to hide it,” Radzilowski said. “The day that it happened we notified the school board. They could have issued a press release.”

School district spokeswoman Margi Nanney on Tuesday said the district did not disclose information about the Jan. 31 incident because it did not realize it might have been connected with the attack in November.

Although Radzilowski said he cannot say what argument the investigators made to convince him to go against his instincts, he did say “it was so sound it made logical sense to hold out.”

“We had information we were trying to act on,” Radzilowski said.

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