Police: Woman sexually assaulted outside First Baptist Church

By Corley Peel - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A woman told police she was sexually assaulted outside the First Baptist Church downtown, according to a report from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

The woman told police on July 23 she was dropped off by a taxi near a bus station and was walking along the sidewalk by the church when she was approached from behind by a man on a black mountain bike.

According to the report, around 1:30 a.m., the woman said the man dropped his bike, walked up to her, held her at gunpoint and sexually assaulted her. He then left the area on his bike.

The woman told police she walked to a nearby hospital and checked in at about 2:38 a.m., where she told staff what happened. Officers noted in the report the man went by the name Derek.

The report noted that officers went to the scene and found a wristband on the sidewalk next to the church.

"You've got to be cognizant of your surroundings," said News4Jax crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson. "You've got to walk with a purpose. You have to be determind to walk from point A to point B."

The woman described the man as dark skinned and muscular, and between the ages of 30 and 35. She told police he was between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 8 inches in height and weighed between 160 and 170 pounds.

She told police the man was wearing a red tank top, blue jeans and black tennis shoes. He had tattoos covering both arms.

A statement from First Baptist Church reads in part:

"Our church is locked and secured at night, and we have security present during our work hours. We work with JSO to provide a safe place for worshipers. We are grieved by such horrendous acts of violence."

Betty Olual, who is homeless, frequents the area. She said what happened is unnerving and that she stays near the church because she feels secure there.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office's crime mapping tool, there have been 61 crimes reported within a half mile area of the church in the past month. Those crimes include assaults, burglaries and thefts.

Anyone with information about the assault can make an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-866-845-TIPS.

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