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Bar patrons stop attempted rape, hold suspect, police say

(ran NS S editions of TAMPA BAY & STATE)

Patrons of a Clearwater bar stopped what police said was an attempted rape in a restroom early Tuesday, catching and holding a man until officers arrived. John Erwin Denson, 27, of 412 Aurora Ave. in Clearwater, was arrested and charged with battery and attempted sexual battery. He was being held at the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $100,500 bail. "Patrons heard the victim screaming and went in and grabbed him," said Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor. "They were outraged. They took it upon themselves to detain him." The incident happened about 1:30 a.m. at the Powderhorn Pub, 2394 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. About eight people were in the bar. A woman in her early 20s went into the restroom, which is near several pool tables in the small bar. Shelor said a man in the bar, identified as Denson, followed her into the restroom. Denson is accused of tearing off the woman's clothes. When she resisted, she was hit in the face several times. Shelor said her attacker dropped his pants. A witness heard the commotion in the restroom, opened the door and saw the woman fighting off the man. Two men who knew the woman pulled the man out of the restroom and held him on the floor until police arrived. The woman was treated for minor facial injuries. Denson was treated at Morton Plant Hospital and taken to jail.

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