Tampa man facing charges in Valentine's Day sexual assault

Posted at 12:19 PM, Mar 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-29 13:54:03-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A Tampa man is behind bars in Tallahassee after being accused of kidnapping a heavily intoxicated victim from a bar and sexually assaulting her while she was passed out in his car. 

Tyler Townsend, 30, has been arrested and charged with four counts of sexual battery on a physically helpless victim and kidnapping to facility felony.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the victim reported the battery on February 15, 2018. The victim told investigators that she had been sexually assaulted the night of Valentine's Day.

Documents say that the victim met up with a guy she met online at a bar around 9 p.m. and ran into some friends. Throughout the night, the victim was drinking heavily, so much so that witnesses say the victim vomited on the bar and passed out.

Multiple witnesses told investigators during sworn interviews that the victim was too intoxicated to walk and was helped outside by her friends.

One of the friends told investigators that her other friend, Townsend, was at the bar as well and saw her taking the victim outside. The witness said Townsend asked if the victim was okay and the witness replied she didn't know. 

Documents say the friend left the victim seated outside with Townsend briefly and told her to stay put so they could grab their items from the bar to take the victim home. However, when they returned, they told investigators that the victim had "disappeared in a split second."

According to court documents, the next thing the victim remembered was waking up to being sexually assaulted in the back seat of an unknown vehicle. 

The victim recalled saying "please stop" and gave the unknown man directions to her home before blacking out again. Once they arrived at the victim's home, the unknown man woke her and gave her clothes, phone, purse and other personal items.

As the victim exited the vehicle, the suspect stated, "This was fun, we should do it again sometime." Though the victim did not recognize the suspect, documents say she was adamant that the suspect was not the date she met at the bar earlier.

When the victim woke up the next day, she had bruises and scrapes on her body and was bleeding from her private area. The injuries were documented via photograph by investigators.

Later on in the day, documents say the victim received a text from an unknown number that stated, "You should've let me walk you inside your apartment." When the victim asked who was texting her, the suspect responded, "Tyler from last night." 

On March 15, police recorded a controlled call with Townsend, in which he acknowledged dropping the victim off at her home and stated, "We were both intoxicated." 

Court documents say a witness later asked Townsend if he knew what happened to the victim, but he asked, "Who is she?" and said he had no idea where the victim had gone that night. 

When investigators spoke with Townsend on March 20, he told them that he asked the victim if she wanted to leave with him and said the victim agreed.

Although Townsend said they were both intoxicated, he told investigators that they both were able to walk to his car unassisted. Investigators say he was adamant that the sex acts were consensual, and that the victim knew what was going on despite all witness accounts saying otherwise.

In fact, investigators say Townsend admitted to additional sex acts that the victim did not bring up in her account as she had no memory of them. 

Based on the investigation, police believed Townsend knew the victim was clearly intoxicated and took her to his car to assault the victim without her consent. 

A warrant was issued for his arrest on March 22. He was taken into custody on Wednesday and, as of Thursday, remains in jail on a $125,000 bond.