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2/19 POLICE BRIEFS: Salesman arrested in sex assault

MANATEE — A 23-year-old Maryland man was arrested after he allegedly sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl when he was going door to door selling magazines, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reports.

Wesley Williams went to an apartment complex with another sales associate working for Sunshine Subscription Agency. When they knocked on the girl’s door, she declined to purchase a subscription.

Williams then asked if he could come inside the residence and check his account on the girl’s computer. The girl told detectives she felt overwhelmed by the aggressive salesmen and allowed them inside her home, the report said.

While Williams was on the computer, the other salesman took her outside on the porch and asked her about her sexual preferences, the report said. Williams did the same thing a few minutes later when the men switched places.

Williams then went back inside the residence with the girl and sexually assaulted her when his business partner was waiting outside, according to the report.

On Feb. 3, Williams was arrested in Manatee County on forgery charges stepping from the same incident in which the Williams stole a book of checks. They turned in four fraudulent checks to their boss.

Williams confessed to the check charges but said the sexual encounter was consensual, according to the report.

He remains in jail on a $270,000 bond.

Man charged with molesting boy

MANATEE — A 35-year-old man faces a sexual battery charge after he admitted to inappropriately touching a boy, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

Robert Shawn Powell remained in jail without bond Thursday night after the boy told detectives the man touched him inside and outside of his clothing numerous times over the past couple of years, the report said.

When interviewed by detectives, Powell said he forced the boy to touch him as well, the report said.

Man approaches children near school

BRADENTON — Bradenton Police have issued an advisory to parents after three students told police they were approached by a man while walking to school this morning.

The students were walking in the 3700 block of Southern Parkway to Prine Elementary School when a man driving an older model red Dodge SUV pulled up and asked if they wanted a ride.

When they declined to get in the vehicle, the man reportedly began yelling profanities before driving away. He was last seen driving on 37th Street West near Cortez Road.

“This is very disturbing. The students realized the danger and used their best judgement in avoiding this person and immediately reporting it to school authorities. Parents were notified of the incident in letters that were sent home today,” said Manatee County School District spokeswoman Margi Nanney. “We urge all parents to use this as a teaching moment and stress the importance of vigilance as students go to and from school.”

The man is about 35 to 40 years old with short blond hair and a mustache. He was last seen wearing a light blue shirt.

Anyone with any information can contact Bradenton Police Department Detective Kevin Bunch at 932-9380 or remain anonymous and possibly become eligible for a cash reward by calling Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).

Officer awarded highest honor for saving woman

BRADENTON — A Bradenton Police Department officer will soon receive the Medal of Honor — the highest honor for an officer — after saving a woman who was trapped inside a burning house last month.

The woman, who did not want to leave the residence, was inside the front bedroom of the home.

Officer Justin Gause went into the burning residence, physically removed her and pulled her to safety. The fire took place on Jan. 22 when a neighbor reported the fire was visible from a neighbor’s home and that there was a man pouring liquid on the fire, which was growing out of control.

The man, who suffers from mental illness and intentionally set the fire, was removed from the fire and secured first. Gause then went back in to find the woman.

He will be honored at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the training room of the police department, 100 10th Street West.

— Beth Burger