Aiken teen fights off sexual assault

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January 24, 2007

AIKEN, S.C.---An Aiken teenager fought off an attacker after she says he exposed himself while she was walking down the road.

It happened on Monday night near the intersection of Fairfield and Abbeville Road.

News 12's Diane Cho talked to this amazing young woman.

17-year-old Desirea Moore doesn't normally walk alone especially after dark, but on Monday she decided to go to the store just as it was getting dark. Before she left she made sure to grab something to protect herself, and that's what might have saved her life.

Desirea was walking back from the store when she noticed a white van driving on the wrong side of the street.

She felt like the driver was following her.

"He said did I know someone named Richardson, and in my head I said, 'He lying. He don't need to know if I know someone'," Desirea told News 12,

That's when, she says, he opened the van door and exposed himself.

She told him to leave her alone, but officers say the driver, Willie Thomas Garrett, came back again, this time asking her a more provocative question.

"He asked me the average size of a male penis, and I said, 'I don't know. I don't care.' He said, 'By looking at me can you tell me what size I am?' So I thought he was going to start something."

Preparing herself to fight back, she put her hand inside her black jacket and grabbed the box cutter...a decision that could have saved her life.

"He was doing his business, whatever, and I kept walking, and he kept following me," Desirea said. "That's when he got out of the car and grabbed me."

She says she cut him once and he let go of her, but he was angry.

"He said, 'You don't act like that, can't you just stand there a couple minutes?'"

She walked to a friend's house where they were able to get his license plate number, and police were able to catch him just down the road.

"I went to identify him, and I looked him right in the eye, and he looked at me...he was mad, but I didn't care."

Now she wants to send a message to every woman who walks alone at night.

"Be careful. Some crazy people out there. You always say never going to happen to you, but when it does it makes you think."

Garrett was charged with simple assault and battery and indecent exposure.