The woman who persuaded a man to stop raping her and drive her back to Crystal River Mall where she was abducted Tuesday was applauded Wednesday by local police and rape counselors.
"She is to be commended for how she handled herself throughout the whole ordeal," said Crystal River Police Sgt. Mack Ballard. "It was her quick thinking and cooperation that helped us put this guy behind bars."
Police charged Timothy Conley, 22, of Yellow Oak Street, Crystal River, with the rape and kidnapping of an 18-year-old woman. He is being held at Citrus County Jail on a $98,500 bond.
Conley allegedly kidnapped the woman in front of a Sears store about 11 a.m., drove her to woods off State Park Road and forced her to perform several sex acts. The woman said she lied to him during the rape, saying she was only 16, and he stopped. Conley then apologized to the woman, saying he didn't know she was that young.
Conley asked the woman to get dressed, and he continued to apologize as he drove her back to the mall. After being dropped off, she called police and waited at the mall's main entrance for officers.
According to officials who routinely deal with rape victims, the woman did exactly what she should have in that situation. But what was most impressive is the way she convinced her rapist to stop the attack.
"One of the hardest things to understand is that some rapists have an ethical and moral side and if you can appeal to that side of them sometimes you can talk your way out," said Judy Wilson, director of the Ocala Rape Crisis Center.
"In this case it sounds as though this particular rapist didn't want to rape a younger woman or a teenager, which he would consider a child. It's hard to know what to do because a variety of things might or might not work."
The woman, who is described as weighing about 100 pounds, was in no position to fight her attacker, who was described as 6-feet-tall, weighing 200 pounds.
She tried to scream when he abducted her in the mall parking lot, but there was no one around and Conley allegedly told her if she screamed again, he would kill her.
"The young girl used her head and did the best she could in those circumstances," said Becky Fleming, executive director of Citrus County Abuse Shelter Association. "If a rapist is being brutal and the victim tries to be brutal, it'll only make his adrenaline pump faster.
"Sometimes a woman can gauge a rapist's personality if she stays cool. This is a good example of how a woman can talk her way out of a situation if she says cool."
Police also commended the woman not only for reporting the crime, which studies have shown is one of the least-reported offenses, but also for providing details that helped in the suspect's capture.
"She was very observant and she gave us a good description of the suspect and the vehicle, and she noticed little things that made all the difference," Ballard said.
The woman told officers that the man was driving a maroon-colored Toyota pickup truck with a small, red, circular sticker on the right side of the front window. He'd also bought motor oil and it was in a Kmart bag.