Police arrested a Fort Lauderdale man they said allegedly assaulted a teenage girl Tuesday morning after she had been walking with a friend.
John Gardner, 33, faces several charges including multiple counts of sexual assault and lewd and lascivious molestation. He was being held on no bond Wednesday pending a hearing.
According to an arrest report, the 14-year-old victim was walking with a friend near the 1000 block of Northeast 3rd Avenue just after 7 a.m. when the two were startled by the sight of someone in the backyard.
They asked that person, identified as Gardner, to leave and he agreed to. The victim's friend walked away and tried to find a safe way back into a nearby group home when police said Gardner approached the victim with a knife.
“Taking advantage of having the victim alone, the suspect brandished a knife and threatened the victim with a knife before sexually assaulting her," said Det. Ali Adamson of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
Gardner allegedly assaulted the victim and fled the scene. He was later taken into custody by Broward Sheriff's Office deputies a short distance from the scene.
Police said Gardner confessed to engaging in sexual acts with the teen victim, who suffered minor injuries.
”The impact of something like this is very long-lasting for this victim, so we’re grateful we were able to get the suspect in custody," Adamson said.
Tiffany Bader, who owns a home nearby where the incident happened, says teenagers and young women who were once in the foster system live in the group home when they don’t have anywhere else to go. She says she’s tried to help them in the past
“I’m not terribly surprised, but I’m sad about it, of course," Bader said.
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