INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Police have made an arrest after an 11-year-old girl was allegedly gagged and molested in an Indianapolis park.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has arrested 51-year-old James Howard in the case. According to jail records, he faces preliminary charges of child molestation and criminal confinement.
According to court documents acquired by News 8, officers were called to Forest Manor Park near 34th Street and Sherman Drive on the city’s northeast side just before 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
The victim spoke with investigators after being sent to a children’s hospital. She said she saw the suspect prior to the attack, saying he was looking at a phone on a bench. She provided a description of the suspect, his clothing and his phone to police.
She said he approached her from behind, put a black rag in her mouth and dragged her to a wooded area where she was raped.
The victim’s mother had gone to look for her daughter when she didn’t answer the phone. She found out when she saw officers by the park.
Surveillance video provided by neighbors showed a man matching the description provided by the victim.
Officers canvassing the area the following day found a man matching the description provided by the victim, including a black hat with the words “Bad Boy” on it.
The man, identified as Howard, quickly turned his hat around when approached by officers, according to court documents. The officers then explained why they were in the area.
“James then removed his hat again and attempted to cover the letters, then in an excited utterance stated, ‘I just bought this hat for $5 yesterday from some guy on the corner,’” court documents state.
Police said a phone on Howard also matched the description provided by the victim. Police say Howard denied being at a park on the day of the attack, and when told there was video of him near a park, said the man in the video was not him.
Online jail records indicate Howard has a court appearance scheduled for Friday afternoon.