Nearly naked rape victim left outside until police arrive

Posted at 8:04 AM, Jul 12, 2013

By Michael Martinez and Marlena Baldacci, CNN

(CNN) — A Florida couple declined to answer the door just before midnight when a nearly naked woman knocked and screamed she had just been raped.

Rather, the homeowners called 911 Monday night.

The couple inside the home refused to let the woman in because they said they were afraid to open their door. In the 911 call, the woman can be heard pleading in the background. The distressed couple begged police to hurry. Their home is in an isolated area, and the couple feared for their safety if they opened the door.

It took about 11 minutes for police to arrive.

A subsequent investigation led to an arrest of a suspect and prompted the spokesman of the DeLand Police Department to remark that “unfortunately fear dictates the response anymore not knowing if (you’re) being set up for other criminal activity.”

Police spokesman Lt. Jack Wales added that if citizens are uncomfortable opening the door to someone seeking help, “tell the person to calm down, you are calling 911 now,” Wales said in a statement.

“If there are two of you, one continues to talk to the victim reassuring them help is on the way while the other person stays on the line with the authorities,” Wales said.

“You control how you respond. For example, tell the person to back away from the door to a place (you’re) comfortable with so you can throw out a blanket or something then go back inside. Always beware of your surroundings around the entry way such as high bushes someone else could be hiding behind.

“Every situation will be unique in its own way and the decision to help is up to the individual depending on how much they can do to assist,” Wales said.

Juan L. Vera-Soledad, 29, of DeLand was arrested in the incident and charged with kidnapping and sex battery with a weapon, according to a charging affidavit filed by police.

Vera-Soledad was in custody Thursday, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney.

The incident began late Monday night when the woman was forced at knifepoint to enter a man’s car at a Citgo in DeLand, a police affidavit said.

The motorist had been circling her several times in his 1998 four-door Toyota and then stopped his car and asked her to get in, the police report said. The man then got out of his car and revealed a silver switchblade-style knife, forcing her into the passenger seat, police said.

He then drove to a location and raped the woman repeatedly, the police document said.

When the man “then laid down in the backseat as if to take a break for a couple of minutes,” the woman sat up, elbowed him in the chest, grabbed her pink shorts and fled to the residence, the document said.

The homeowner told police that “he heard someone outside banging on his front door yelling that she had been raped,” the affidavit said.

Responding officers then searched for the suspect and found him with a “known prostitute” in his car, the report said.

–CNN’s Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.