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The 17-year-old told police she met the man for the first time at the new Dartmouth bus terminal. He walked with her, then attacked her on the Dartmouth Common. (CBC)

A 17-year-old girl is recovering  and police are searching for a suspect after a vicious sexual assault on the Dartmouth Common this weekend.

Police are actively searching for the suspect, aided by a detailed description the victim provided to police.

“These incidents are very traumatic for anyone who goes through them,” said HRP Const. Pierre Bourdages.

The victim described her attacker as black, with a small tattoo under his right eye. She told police he looked like he was in his early 20s, is about five feet five inches tall, and he was wearing a baseball cap, a bandana and a dark tank top.

The events that led to the attack began at the new Dartmouth bus terminal Saturday night where the victim saw the suspect for the first time, she told police.

He started walking with her but when they reached the Dartmouth Common near Alderney Drive and Wyse Road, the victim told police that’s when the situation turned ugly.

“He became violent, grabbed onto her, sexually assaulted her and this sexual assault involved forced penetration,” said Bourdages.

Eva Widmeyer, 14, only heard about the sex assault Monday, but Saturday night she wasn't far away from where the attack happened. She was at the Dartmouth Sportsplex watching a hockey game

“We just never heard anything, nothing,” she said.

Police got the call shortly before 9 p.m.

As police continue to search for the assailant, people on the street say incidents like this have made them think differently about their safety.

“I work at the building right next to here and I walk this place at lunch quite a bit but now I don't  feel safe walking through there any more,” said Kathy Giovannetti.

Some have suggested the young woman should not have been alone at night but police say this case is not about her behaviour.

“This is not about the victim, it’s about the suspect. The greater picture here is that we have a man, an individual, that believes he can do whatever he wants to whoever he wants. People have the right to walk around freely in the city and feel safe wherever they are,” said Bourdages.

Police said the victim was taken to the Dartmouth General Hospital where she was examined and released.

They said because it was fairly early in the evening, people were likely in the area and they're hoping anyone with information will contact them.