A teenage girl was sexually assaulted by a man who grabbed her from behind as she walked along a path near the town centre.
Police say the victim was subjected to a “horrendous ordeal” by her attacker.
Our investigation is in its very early stages and we taking it slowly with the victim as she has gone through a horrendous ordealDet Insp Paul Unsworth
The 17-year-old was walking alone along a path off Ravenhead Road in Ravenhead near the Phoenix Inn pub at around 8.40am on Wednesday.
A man grabbed her from behind and dragged her to the ground. She is believed to have momentarily lost consciousness and when she came round her attacker had fled.
The victim called out for help from two passers-by who called the police.
She is currently at home being cared for by family and specially-trained officers are waiting until she is ready before interviewing her.
Police detained a 24-year-old man seen acting suspiciously in the area. He was questioned but has been bailed pending further enquiries.
Det Insp Paul Unsworth, from St Helens CID, said: “Our investigation is in its very early stages and we taking it slowly with the victim as she has gone through a horrendous ordeal.
“It is important that we establish from her exactly what happened during this attack and this will take time.
“We are taking the incident extremely seriously and extensive enquiries are being carried out by my officers to progress the investigation.
“It is highly unusual for this kind of incident to happen anywhere in St Helens and I understand how worried people living in the area might be.
“I would like to reassure them that local neighbourhood officers will be patrolling in the area this week and anyone with information or concerns should approach them and they will be happy to help.
“I am keen to hear from anyone who was in this part of Ravenhead Road, in particular near Factory Row this morning and saw anything unusual or suspicious.
“If you were going to school or work or walking the dog or going for a run and saw anything of note, please call us.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Merseyside Police on 0151 777 6013 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.