Friday, April 20, 2018
Public safety

Man, 23, charged in brutal rape of woman near Tampa railroad tracks

TAMPA — Police arrested a 23-year-old man accused of brutally beating and raping a 36-year-old woman in a wooded area near railroad tracks in north Tampa.

Cleveland F. Morris, 23, has been charged with sexual battery.

The woman, who was not identified, was at a Citgo Gas Station on Busch Boulevard and 30th Street on Saturday night, sometime after 10:30 p.m., when Morris approached her, police said.

He walked and talked with her as she exited the convenience store.

Before she could reach her car, police said, Morris grabbed the woman and forced her toward a wooded area several blocks away, near N 17th Street and E Yukon Street. He beat her severely about her face and upper body and then raped her, police said.

The victim suffered fractures to her ribs, a punctured lung and severe bruising and swelling around her face, officials said.

She was taken to a local hospital, where she remained in serious condition Monday.

Morris was arrested Sunday night at 9330 30th Street N, on the periphery of Busch Gardens. Officials said the victim identified Morris in a lineup.

According to state records, this is not the first time Morris has been accused of a sexual crime.

In 2004, when he was 15, Morris was charged with five counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and two counts of sexual battery on a child younger than 12, a capital felony.

Later that year, Tampa police arrested Morris on burglary and larceny charges.

Most recently, Morris was arrested last year on charges of carrying a concealed weapon. He remained in jail Monday in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Marissa Lang can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386 or on Twitter @Marissa_Jae.

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