Detectives from the Sexual Crimes Squad investigating historical sexual assaults believe they have identified a similar incident to a 1985 abduction in South Yarra that was subject to a public appeal earlier this month.
The second incident occurred in Nunawading in 1986.
A 19-year-old woman was walking along the footpath on Ashwood Drive about 9.30pm on the night of 26 March.
A vehicle, described as being possibly a white or silver Holden sedan, pulled up alongside her and she was pulled into the car with four men.
The victim was then blindfolded and gagged, as well as being threatened with a knife.
She was driven a short distance to an unknown property and then subsequently sexually assaulted by at least three men whilst still blindfolded.
The woman was then dumped on Mariana Avenue in Ringwood East sometime around midnight.
She managed to make her way to the Nunawading police station and reported the matter.
Detectives now believe that this abduction in Nunawading is linked to a similar incident that occurred in South Yarra in 1985, and was the subject of a recent public appeal.
In that incident, an 18-year-old school girl was dragged into a vehicle on Bray Street about 10pm on Friday, 22 November 1985.
She was also blindfolded and gagged, then taken to an unknown property and sexually assaulted before being dumped on Yarra Boulevard in Richmond some hours later.
A re-creation of the female victim being grabbed off the street in South Yarra and thrown into a vehicle by the offenders has also been released to the public in the hope it will jog the memory of any witnesses from the time.
It’s believed there was a man standing at the end of the street who made eye contact with the victim before getting into his vehicle and driving off.
That man has never come forward and spoken with police and detectives are hopeful he will now do so.
As the investigations have now been deemed to be linked, the $350,000 reward on offer for the South Yarra incident will also apply to the Nunawading incident.
Both matters were investigated by police at the time, however no one was ever arrested or charged in relation to either incident.
Police are also continuing to look for other similarly linked incidents and are particularly keen to speak to anyone who may have been victim of such an incident, but never reported it to police at the time.
Officer in charge of the Sexual Crimes Squad, Detective Inspector Steve Wilson, said that this investigation shows that police are not willing to give up the hope of securing justice for victims.
“I can only begin to imagine how horrific it has been for this victim, not only to go through the extreme trauma of a terrifying incident like this, but to also spend the past 33 years knowing that those responsible have never been charged in relation to it,” he said.
“Like the South Yarra abduction and sexual assault, to describe this incident as being brutal would be an understatement.
“I know it has been some years since this incident occurred but we’re not willing to give up and I urge anyone who has information about the incident or saw anything suspicious in Nunawading on that night to come forward.
“Any small piece of information could prove to be absolutely crucial.
“Information can also be provided to police anonymously via Crime Stoppers, so if you have lived with this information or the knowledge of who is response for this assault, then we ask you to come forward now and help us solve the case.”
Given the amount of time that has passed, police believe those involved or anyone with information could potentially be living interstate.
A reward of up to $350,000 will be paid at the discretion of the Chief Commissioner of Police for information leading to the apprehension and subsequent conviction of the person or persons responsible for the abduction and sexual assault.
In appropriate cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions may consider, according to established guidelines, the granting of indemnification from prosecution to any person who provides information as to the identity of the principal offender or offenders in this matter.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppers.com.au