Ashland police are searching for a man who witnesses say sexually assaulted a female employee in the kitchen of The Loft Restaurant Friday evening, then punched a male employee in the face when the worker confronted the man.

Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said the assailant “grabbed the butt” of a female staff member, then assaulted the co-worker and fled. Police are trying to identify the suspect through video surveillance, social media, tips and credit card receipts, he said.

A frame from a Loft security camera shows a white male adult in his 20s, wearing a maroon hoodie and light blue jeans, with short, “dirty blonde” hair, he said.

Loft owner Jacqueline Vidalo on Saturday posted on Facebook: “This piece of garbage followed our hostess into Loft Restaurant from the elevator last night around 10 p.m. He was at the bar above us-upstairs-and was riding the elevator down when my hostess got into the elevator. He followed her to the front door and entered our kitchen. He sexually assaulted and physically assaulted 2 of our employees. He was wrestled almost to the ground, but managed to get away. He was then chased to Water St in Ashland, before they lost him.”

Vidalo described him as “about 5’9” to 6’, white male between 18-25, blonde hair cut short, and a very low deep voice.”

Anyone with information about the alleged assailant can call the Ashland Police Department at 541-482-5211, or the anonymous tip line at 541-552-2333, or email tipline@ashland.or.us. The case number is 17-4418.

— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.