Two British men were beaten unconscious after they reportedly stepped in to stop a woman from being sexually assaulted last Sunday morning.

The pair, aged 19 and 25, intervened to help women who were "in distress" after one was "inappropriately touched" in Stoke-on-Trent, MailOnline and StokeonTrentLive reported.

The local media outlet reported that one of the two men, 25, required facial reconstruction surgery after the woman's assailants attacked him. He remains in hospital.

The 19-year-old victim has since been discharged from the Royal Stoke University Hospital, StokeonTrentLive said.

The British media have dubbed "heroes" for their valiant attempt to protect the woman.

Friends and relatives have praised the young men.

"My stepson and his friend showed pure bravery. These two deserve a medal for putting themselves in danger. My stepson has multiple broken bones in his face due to the guys stamping on his face," said Ben Mortimer, as reported by the Daily Express.

Initial reports indicated that the men stepped in to prevent rape. A Staffordshire Police spokesperson told Insider: "We want to clarify that, following inquiries, there was not a report of attempted rape of a female ahead of an assault of two men that took place on Stafford Street in Hanley on 5 September 2021."

There was, however, an "allegation of a woman being touched inappropriately," the spokesperson said.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, sexual assault is when a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will, or when a person touches another person sexually without their consent. Touching can be done with any part of the body or with an object.

On Thursday, police arrested a 23-year-old man on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent. He has since been released on conditional bail pending further inquiries.

Officers are now trying to identify another man they wish to speak to in connection with the attack.

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