An assailant who sneaks up behind women and gropes them before fleeing may be on the loose in Iowa City, Iowa, where a sexual assault against a woman early Friday marked the 27th such attack in the city in the past 12 months, the Daily Iowan reported Monday.

Iowa City Police Sgt. Troy Kelsay acknowledged similarities in the assaults, during which the alleged attacker approaches the victim from behind, pushes her down and gropes her, the Iowan reported. According to the report, the attacks have all occurred in the same parts of the city in the early morning hours, and authorities confirmed that there could be a connection between the assaults.

A spokesperson for a rape victims' advocacy group interviewed by the Iowan indicated that she believed one person was responsible for the attacks.

The groping assaults began in September, 2006, according to the Iowan.

For more on this story, click here for the full report in the Daily Iowan.