BY KEITH EPPS
A Fredericksburg teenager said she saw no reason to be alarmed March 29 when she accepted a ride home from an 85-year-old stranger.
Before the 11/2-mile ride was over, the young woman testified yesterday in Fredericksburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, she was "freaking out."
She said the elderly driver touched her breast and made numerous sexually suggestive comments during the short ride.
John William Sinnett, 85, of Spotsylvania is charged with abduction with the intent to defile. The charge, which carries a possible life sentence, was sent to a city grand jury following a preliminary hearing yesterday.
According to the evidence presented by Commonwealth's Attorney LaBravia Jenkins, the girl was walking home from James Monroe High School about 11:30 a.m. when Sinnett pulled up on Fall Hill Avenue.
Sinnett had been in the Rappahannock Regional Jail's electronic incarceration program since July, when he got a 12-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman in Spotsylvania.
Jail officials said he had permission to leave his house that day to go to a doctor's appointment.
The victim said he offered her a ride home and she accepted, partly because it was raining and she had no umbrella.
The victim, who is now 18, said Sinnett immediately began inquiring about such things as how many sexual partners she'd had, her bra size and sexually explicit questions.
When they got to Heritage Park, the young woman said, Sinnett touched her breast and waist and asked her if she wanted to cheat on her boyfriend with him.
He then locked the car doors as she told him not to touch her.
The girl unlocked her door and ran, she said, as Sinnett drove away in the opposite direction. She immediately reported the incident.
Detective Mark Purcell said he got Sinnett's name from another city detective. City police said Sinnett had been a person of interest in five previous complaints in the city since 2001.
Those cases involved an older man making inappropriate comments to women but did not involve actual crimes, police said. All preceded his arrest last year in Spotsylvania.
Purcell said he took six pictures of men to the girl's home the next day. She immediately identified Sinnett as the man she'd encountered.
The detective said Sinnett admitted picking up the girl and talking about sexual matters, but he initially denied touching her.
He later admitted touching her breast, Purcell said, and told the detective, "Good God, I wish you could have seen her."
Defense attorney John Spencer tried to get Judge R. Michael McKenney to reduce the charge to sexual battery, a misdemeanor.
He said that while Sinnett's alleged comments were unsavory, his alleged actions did not support the felony charge.
Jenkins said Sinnett's intentions were clear when he locked the doors. "She thought he was an old man who was going to take her home, not a dirty old man who was going to take advantage of her," Jenkins said.
A city grand jury meets later this month. If Sinnett is indicted, a trial date would be set in circuit court.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404
Click to view image: '66bc456d2224-oldman.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|