Sunday, January 21, 2018
Public safety

Man, 21, accused of raping unconscious teen girl on Clearwater Beach

CLEARWATER — A call came in Wednesday night about a couple having sex on Clearwater Beach.

But when officers responded just after 8:30 p.m. to the beach behind the Sandpearl Resort and Hotel, they found Michael Edward Mathews, 21, raping an unresponsive teenage girl, officials said.

Mathews, who is transient and originally from Canada, was arrested and charged with sexual battery.

Clearwater police spokeswoman Joelle Castelli said Mathews befriended the girl and her friend, both of whom are 16 or under.

He bought them alcohol Wednesday, she said, and they drank it.

What happened next wasn't immediately clear.

Officers arrived to find Mathews on top of the victim, police said. The second girl was nowhere to be found.

When officers ordered Mathews to get up, he complied, but the girl did not move. As officers tried to wake her, she simply lay there, motionless on the sand, police said.

"She was passed out," Castelli said.

Officer James Frederick continued to try to wake the teen, but got no response. He tried to ask her name, age, where she lives — silence.

She was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated for alcohol poisoning, Castelli said.

Mathews told officers he wasn't sure if the girl consented to have sex with him prior to the act, according to an arrest report. He said he "was trying to get the victim to wake up by biting her, but she would not react," the report states.

According to state records, Mathews was arrested three weeks ago on a misdemeanor trespassing charge.

On Thursday, he remained in custody at the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bond Thursday.

An investigation into Wednesday's incident is ongoing.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Marissa Lang can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4155.

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