KENOSHA, WI (WITI/CNN) – A group of neighborhood children in a Wisconsin community sprang into action when police say a man grabbed a young girl and started walking off with her.
A criminal complaint says 27-year-old Benjamin Spasogevich-Lee, known as Eli, grabbed a 4-year-old girl by the wrists May 18 and took her down the street.
The girl had been outside with other children at the time, who sprang into action when they saw what was happening.
"I told her to go get the little girl, and I went to get her parents,” neighbor Trinity Stout said.
One of the children grabbed the girl and took her away from Spasogevich-Lee, according to the complaint.
"Kids started coming up to me, saying, ‘Jada, Eli has Caylee. He has Caylee. I started freaking out, so I ran down there and grabbed her by her arm,” neighbor Jada Miller said.
The children told Jeff Carr, the 4-year-old’s father, what had happened, and he called the police.
“I was so happy, and once they told me what happened, I was furious but I settled down and called the cops,” Carr said.
Spasogevich-Lee told police he did nothing wrong, according to a criminal complaint, but admitted saying something to the girl. He says he never touched her.
"I'm proud of her. I'm happy about the other kid. I hope more communities can react like that, come together and be aware of what's going on,” neighbor Bernard Barnes said.
Neighbors say Spasogevich-Lee has been cause for concern in the past. Trinity says he sometimes stripped to his boxers when the school bus came.
"So, we were just kind of watching, and things started getting a little creepier,” neighbor Angela Cheeks said.
Police say Spasogevich-Lee approached a group of kids a few weeks before the incident and told them they could be kidnapped or raped. He then reportedly explained to them what rape is.
Spasogevich-Lee appeared in court May 22 on an abduction charge and a charge of disorderly conduct. The court ordered a competency hearing for him, and he is ordered to have no contact with any child under the age of 18.
If convicted of the abduction charge, Spasogevich-Lee faces up to 15 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.
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