A 22-year-old woman was walking along Vicar Lane at around 1.45am when she turned into Fish Street, which is a popular cut-through to King Edward Street and Kirkgate.
At this point she was grabbed by a group of males and dragged into a nearby doorway and seriously sexually assaulted by at least one male. The males then left the alleyway in the direction of Briggate.
The woman had been at the Hi-Fi club on Central Road earlier in the evening, and on leaving the club she was approached by a group of around four males who made sexually suggestive comments towards her. The woman ignored their advances and continued walking towards Vicar Lane to get a taxi home.
Following enquiries it is believed that the same group of males, who are all described as being dark-skinned, may have made other similar approaches to other women in the city centre around midnight and possibly earlier in the evening.
Officers are keen to speak to any other women who may have been approached by these males as a matter of urgency.
The incident is being investigated by West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team (H-MET). The senior investigating officer, Detective Superintendent Paul Taylor, said: “This is an extremely serious incident involving a group of males who have attacked a lone woman before at least one of them has subjected her to a serious sexual assault.
“I am appealing to any other lone women who may have been approached by this group of possibly four males to contact police as soon as they can. Information they have could be vital to tracing these males.
“It is also possible that other members of the public may have seen the group in and around the Fish Street or Vicar Lane areas, and I would also ask for anyone who thinks they have information to contact us.
“Incidents of this nature are very rare, but it is crucial that anyone with information that can help our enquiries comes forward as soon as possible so we can find those responsible.”
Officers have released an image of a male they are particularly keen to trace in connection with the incident.
Det Supt Taylor said: “We believe this male may have vital information which can assist enquiries, and I would ask that he comes forward and speak to us as soon as possible.
“There were a number of males involved in this incident, some of which we believe will have been involved to a lesser extent than others. I would also encourage those males who may have been involved in the initial incident but not the serious sexual assault to come forward and speak to us immediately.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team via 0845 6060606. Alternatively you can send text messages to 07786200805, starting your message with the word ‘LEEDS’.