FOX31 Denver

Self-defense expert offers tips following reports of Jeffco trail predator 

BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a suspected sexual predator wanted for targeting female hikers in the Conifer and Evergreen area.

The sheriff’s office said it’s received seven reports of a man confronting female hikers, and that all of them were alone at the time of the attacks. 

“I hate to say it, but I’m not altogether surprised,” Rachel Mahloch said. “I have a lot of runners who come to me for training. These things do happen on the trail.”

Mahloch is the founder of Battle Woman Self Defense, a group that teaches women how to plan for and respond to attacks and advances. 

“Surprise attacks are challenging, right?” Mahloch said. “You have to practice those scenarios, otherwise you don’t react quickly enough.”

In the Jefferson County incidents, investigators said the man has been forcibly grabbing women, masturbating in front of them, and engaging in sexual conversations.

Mahloch said each scenario is different, but she said the ultimate goal is to distance yourself from the attacker.

In many cases, this may involve hurting the attacker to the point where they can’t, or don’t want to follow you. 

That could mean targeting the attacker’s eyes, face, or groin, depending on the situation. She also says the corner of a cell phone can do more damage than people realize, giving most people a readily available defense tool.

“If you don’t have the intent to hurt the person who’s trying to hurt you for the goal of getting away, then it’s going to be very challenging,” she said.

Mahloch recommends taking a self-defense course if you plan on being alone in remote areas on a frequent basis.