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Police: Man accused of attempted rape in church parking lot

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A victim reported to police Oct. 26 that a man tried to rape her in the parking lot of the Immaculate Conception Church downtown.

Kinard Huggins, 53, has been charged with sexual battery in the case. 

Huggins' photo was released earlier this week by police, who said he was a person of interest in a potential sex crime downtown.

The victim told police that Huggins pulled her into a corner of a church parking lot on East Duval Street just after 1 a.m. and then began pulling down her shorts in an attempt to have sex with her against her will. She said she struggled and screamed and ran away, but that Huggins grabbed her from behind and dragged her back to the corner, according to the police report.

The victim said during the struggle her mouth was hit hard and she began to bleed.

Police got surveillance video from the church and were able to come up with a detailed description of the suspect.

After Huggins' photo was released, patrol officers spotted him about 9 p.m. Wednesday and he agreed to come to the police station to be interviewed.

After the interview with detectives, Huggins was arrested.

"Due to their unbelievable surveillance quality and then working with police, they really helped to solve this crime so quickly," JSO spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said.

The facilities manager at the church said he's happy he was able to help police get a suspect in jail. 

"It justifies having a camera system and the expensive camera system, especially a high-definition system," Chris McClelland said.

Bujeda said social media also played a part in catching Huggins quickly.

"I think a lot of people feel at ease just messaging us through our Facebook or tweeting us, and they might not pick up the phone," Bujeda said. "Whatever it takes to get those texts and tips and messages in, we'll take it where we can get it. And the community really stepped up with this, and let us hone in on where he was." 

Huggins has been arrested more than 20 times since 2008, mostly for trespassing. His other arrests include panhandling, possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, and bank fraud. 

"That's definitely classic mental illness. For those who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, absolutely. We see that a lot as kind of our chronic offenders. They are usually misdemeanor, and usually non-violent," said Denise Marzullo, CEO of Mental Health America Northeast Florida.

The address listed in the police report for Huggins is for the Mental Health Resource Center, which provides partial hospitalization or outpatient treatment for those with mental illness.

Marzullo said there is a big disconnect when it comes to the justice system and the mental health system.

"People don't understand that it's an illness, and it doesn't excuse the behavior, they still have to have the consequences of the behavior, but it's up to us as a community to have the treatment services available to them," Marzullo said.