Gainesville police arrest teen boy in UF student rape

GPD says 14-year-old boy charged in woman's rape

By Erik Avanier - Reporter, Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A 14-year-old Gainesville boy is in police custody suspected of the Wednesday rape of a female University of Florida student at Tivoli Apartments, the Gainesville Police Department said. 

The 14-year-old was arrested on charges of sexual battery, business burglary, occupied residential burglary, attempted armed residential burglary and resisting arrest stemming from the rape case and other burglaries in the area of Tivoli and Bivens Cove in recent weeks.  

His 13-year-old brother was arrested on charges of attempted residential burglary in an unrelated case.

The boys names and mugshots aren't being released because they are juveniles, police said.

The arrests happened following undercover surveillance of Tivoli after the rape was reported. 
Undercover officers with GPD’s Detective Division, Special Operations Unit noticed the two boys walking around the complexes and concealing themselves in the shadows of breezeways and the building Saturday night. Undercover officers continued to watch the boys until uniformed officers could move into the area to assist with the arrest.  

Officers said it appears that the two had begun to break into an apartment by lifting the window just before they were arrested.

The sex attack was reported about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday inside the Tivoli Apartments on Southwest 13th Street. 

According to the Police Department, the victim, who they confirmed is a UF student, was working out when an unknown assailant (later confirmed by police as the 14-year-old) knocked on the door and she let him in. She told police the boy then grabbed her and pulled her into the bathroom, where he punched her in the face and grabbed her throat while trying to pull her pants off.

The 14-year-old then exposed himself and forced her to perform a sex act, police said. 

Police released a sketch Friday of the attacker, which the complex manager posted in the lobby, trying to help find the person responsible.

The complex does not have surveillance cameras, but management is considering adding them after the attack.

"It’s pretty crazy. I honestly never expected something to happen at Tivoli, because it’s a very quiet area. Nothing really ever happened here," UF freshman Daniel Rocco said.

The apartment complex manager said many UF students live at the complex because it's only about 2 miles from campus. The manager said the complex takes pride in its property and workers are upset about what happened.

UF graduate student Erin Jeffreys said she was thankful police made an arrest.

“It’s insane -- society today. I’m not surprised. I don’t know, it’s crazy,” Jeffreys said. “I always carry pepper spray with me, always have my phone available, and usually I just try to avoid being by myself even during the daytime -- just be with somebody.”

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said a predator will always seize the opportunity to take advantage of someone unsuspecting. 

Sketch of suspected attacker

“It’s so convenient for women to work out in the apartment complex gym because they're coming home straight from work, maybe late at night, and it’s going to always be open, especially if they have a key," Smith said. "But the one thing you have to remember is not to let anyone in. A person may appear to be friendly, but if they don’t have a key, that means they are not a resident of the apartment complex.”

Though you may come across as being rude by not letting someone in without a key, Smith said, it's better to be safe than sorry. He also said if you're alone, it's good to be aware of your surroundings because trouble can come from any direction. 

“If it does get to that point where the person is inside, use anything you can," Smith said. "Scream, make noise, yell and pick up a barbell or dumbbell -- anything to protect yourself.”

To be clear, Smith said, it's OK to let in a familiar neighbor who doesn't have a key, but don't even budge if it's a stranger. 

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