The mother of a 26-year-old woman who was raped on a West Toledo sidewalk last week said she and her husband are grateful to the witness who called 911 and those who provided information that helped police make a quick arrest in the case.
"I want to thank the people who did step up and call 911," the victim's mother said yesterday. "Because of them, the police were able to capture this guy very quickly, so people did get involved. I don't expect anybody to jump out of their car and try to stop somebody."
She contacted The Blade to express her family's gratitude - not criticism - to the 911 caller who saw the attack but felt guilty because she did not try to stop it.
"My family and I have no anger for any of those passers-by who did not stop or did not tell law enforcement officials," she said. "Who could believe their eyes that such a brazen crime was taking place on the street? I don't know what I would have done. I don't think anyone does until you get into a situation like that."
The victim, who has bipolar disorder and Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, told police she was walking to the West Toledo branch library on Sylvania Avenue about 2:30 p.m. Jan. 19 when she was approached by a young man who threatened her with a pair of scissors.
The Blade does not identify victims of sexual crimes.
Police said the assailant allegedly pulled down her sweatpants and sexually assaulted her on the sidewalk on Royalton Road at Lyman Avenue. At least two cars drove by during the attack but didn't stop. One woman called 911, and two witnesses in another vehicle returned to the scene a short while later to provide police a description of the suspect that contributed to his arrest about 12 hours after the crime.
Anferney Fontenet, 15, of 1656 Shady Drive was charged with delinquency in connection with rape and robbery.
The case has garnered national attention because of what appeared to be a lack of concern by those who saw what was happening but failed to stop.
"It's not the movies," the victim's mother said, adding that she did not expect passers-by to turn into Dirty Harry, jump out of their cars, and stop the attack. "I'm not angry at the people who didn't call police. I'm angry at the person who did this," she said. "I want people to stop feeling bad."
She said that since the attack, her daughter, who lives in a group home, has flashes of shakiness and is uneasy about walking places, but she does not blame the 911 caller.
"She said she's very grateful to the person who called," her mother said. "She's upset at the people who drove by because, she said, if she had seen that, she would've stopped and, knowing my daughter, she probably would have."
Because of the brutality of the act, prosecutors filed a motion Friday seeking to have young Fontenet certified to stand trial as an adult. Lori Olender, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said it is unusual to have a 15-year-old with no previous history of delinquency tried as an adult. That's more typical in the case of a serious crime in which a juvenile suspect has been through the court system before and has re-offended.
"Here, the difference is this is a very brutal crime and it was very odd the way it was done in the middle of the day in the middle of the public," Ms. Olender said.
Court officials will look at the teen's school records and other factors, including a psychological assessment by the Court Diagnostic and Treatment Center before recommending whether he is amenable to rehabilitation in the juvenile system, she said.
A probable causing hearing - the first phase of the process - is set for Feb. 2.
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