February 19, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---A woman says she was sexually assaulted as she was stepping outside her Phinizy Road home to take out the trash.
Now some of her neighbors are paying more attention to their surroundings.
Reported sexual assaults are already up in Richmond County, so paying more attention is something investigators say everyone should do.
Richmond County deputies are looking for a man accused of sexually assaulting a 63-year-old woman.
She says she was attacked at her home on Phinizy Road around 9:40 Saturday night by a man she didn't know.
Records from the sheriff's department show sexual assaults in Richmond County are up from this time last year, and now deputies are cautioning everyone to be careful.
Neighbor Kimberly Hunt is keeping her doors locked, her lights on, and her security system on standby.
"We have one advantage no one else has--the dogs," she told News 12.
Kimberly's on high alert after the reported attack just down the street.
The 63-year-old woman says it happened while she was taking out the trash Saturday night.
"I certainly wouldn't take my trash out that late at night...but I'd like the freedom to be able to do that, and I should be able to do that without the fear of getting raped," said neighbor Jane Drake.
The victim says that while she was on her way back inside, the man came up from behind, pushed her into the kitchen, and assaulted her at knifepoint.
Neighbors say that with hardly any streetlights, Phinizy Road can be a very dark street. They also say they see random people walking around all the time.
That's why Sgt. Calvin Chew cautions them and all of us: before you step outside, take a good look around.
"Check and make sure no one is lingering or standing around," he said. "Just to be sure of the surroundings...just in case something happens."
The sheriff's office records show there had been 13 sexual assaults by this time last year. That's five less than this year, with number 18 on Kimberly's street.
"When they said it was an elderly woman, I was like...I really hate that," Kimberly said. "It's a scary thing."
Now, even though her watch dogs are ready, Kimberly says she won't be taking out the trash after hours any more.
If caught, the attacker could be charged with aggravated sexual battery and armed robbery. That's because she says he took three hundred dollars from her purse.
Deputies say stranger-to-stranger cases are not common. Fewer than ten percent happen that way. Most are between acquaintances.