BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A South Carolina woman whose 11-year-old daughter escaped an attack by a sex offender, according to police, in a Brunswick restaurant bathroom Saturday posted about the attack on Facebook, saying her daughter was called a “hero” by the local sheriff.
News4Jax is not naming the girl or her mother because of the nature of the alleged attack and to protect their privacy.
According to the Glynn County Police Department, John Schuler, 40, from Waycross, was arrested inside Sonny’s BBQ on New Jesup Highway and charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment and enticing a child for indecent purposes.
He was convicted of child molestation in 2008 and is a registered sex offender in Georgia.
According to the girl's mother, the 11-year-old was with her father and other family members when they stopped at the Sonny's about 4 p.m. Saturday while heading back to South Carolina from a family vacation in Florida. The 11-year-old was the only girl in the group and asked to go the bathroom, which was in view of the table, her mother said.
The girl said that when she came out of the bathroom stall, she saw a man but assumed he was a worker cleaning the bathrooms.
“Why else would there be a man in the women’s bathroom, right?” the mother wrote in her Facebook post.
She said that her daughter could see the man in the mirror as she was washing her hands and watched as he went down the stalls, checking each one and getting closer to her.
Then he suddenly grabbed the girl's throat with one hand and put his other hand over her mouth, the woman said.
The girl started screaming and the man told her to “hush it!” the mother wrote.
But the girl kept screaming, kicked the man, did a spin move, squirmed free and ran out the door, crying as she told her father some man tried to kidnap her, her mother wrote.
There was so much confusion after the girl ran out of the bathroom crying, that a Sonny's worker who called 911 told the dispatcher she had come out of the men's bathroom. The dispatcher instructed the Sonny's worker to keep everyone in the restaurant until police arrived.
"She said they put their hand over her mouth and grabbed her,” the 911 caller said.
The girl's father stopped the man as he came out of the bathroom and headed for the door, according to the girl's mother. She said the father pushed the man, later identified as Schuler, to a table and said he wasn't going anywhere.
Schuler was taken into custody at the restaurant, and the girl and her family were interviewed at the police station.
“I hate to even think about it, but there is no telling what he would have done to (my daughter) had she frozen in fear,” the mother wrote. “He is a proven repeat offender.”
The girl's mother said the sheriff called to commend her daughter and called her a hero, saying “there is no telling how many children’s lives her bravery saved.”
In her Facebook post, the girl's mother lamented that attacks like this are becoming almost routine.
“Each and every grisly discovery of unspeakable acts committed against the most vulnerable among us, fills us with outrage, and disbelief,” she wrote. “I am still in disbelief that this happened to my child. But it can.”
She urged other parents to teach their children to fight, scream and do whatever it takes to get away if they find themselves in a similar attack.
“These heinous crimes deserve the harshest punishments,” she wrote. “This should never happen, but a repeat offender is even worse.”