Deputies: Victim jumps in canal, swims to safety to flee man intent on rape

Deputies: Victim jumps in canal, swims to safety to flee man intent on rape
Clayton Rhodes is charged with aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, false imprisonment and sexual battery. (Source: Manatee County Sheriff's Office)

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A victim who deputies say was kidnapped had to jump in a canal and swim away to escape a man intent on rape.

It happened Tuesday around 2:30am. Deputies say the victim was walking to 7-Eleven when 34-year-old Clayton Rhodes of Bradenton pulled up in a vehicle and flashed what appeared to be a firearm, threatening to shoot the victim if the victim didn't get in the vehicle.

Deputies say Rhodes drove to Bayshore Gardens Recreational Center on 26th Street West and forced the victim out of the vehicle, walking the victim to a pier on the south side of the parking lot while holding a knife to the victim’s throat.

While being walked to the pier, the victim says Rhodes said he intended to commit rape and told the victim to strip. The victim started to act as though they would comply and when Rhodes put down the knife to remove his clothing, the victim jumped into the canal and swam to a home on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The victim got the attention of a resident of the mobile home park who called 911.

Deputies searched the area and say they located Rhodes on Georgia Avenue. Deputies say he was sweating profusely and acting suspicious. Deputies questioned him and say Rhodes claimed he was having consensual sex with the victim when the victim "began acting crazy" and jumped into the canal.

Deputies say they found a knife in Rhodes vehicle and subsequent questioning he made inconsistent statements.

Rhodes was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, false imprisonment and sexual battery.

Copyright 2020 WWSB. All rights reserved.