Bond Raised for Man Accused of Burning Ex Who Turned Down Marriage Proposal

Police said he turned off the water at her home so she could not wash off the chemicals.

Police have arrested a New Haven, Connecticut, man who is accused of attacking his ex-girlfriend with drain cleaner when she turned down a marriage proposal and turning off the water in her apartment so she could not wash it off.

Derek Lee Rawls, 50, of New Haven, appeared in court on Wednesday, where the judge approved a full protective order for the victim.

Rawls was believed to be on the run, possibly in the Atlanta, Georgia area, but he turned himself in at police headquarters at 1 a.m. on Tuesday. 

Police started looking for him after responding to a Spring Street home at 7:45 p.m. on Friday to investigate the report of an assault and found the victim, whose face, neck, chest and arms were discolored and peeling from the attack, police said.

She was rushed to Yale–New Haven Hospital to be treated for third-degree burns and has been released.

On Wednesday, the state's attorney said the woman is in pain, "terrified" of Rawls and concerned that the attack was planned.

She told authorities she has a restraining order against Rawls, who she dated in the past, and he threw the liquid chemicals at her after she told him she wouldn’t marry him.

During the investigation, police recovered a plastic cup that contained some of those chemicals, which were determined it is drain cleaner.

Rawls is a convicted felon with a criminal history that includes convictions for robbery, first-degree escape, unlawful restraint in the second degree and felonious assault in Ohio.

He has been charged with assault in the first degree, criminal attempt to commit assault in the first degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree, breach of peace in the second degree and violating a protective order.

Bond for Rawls was originally set at $500,000, but it was increased to $750.000 and he is due back in court on Feb. 5.

If Rawls posts bond, he will be on house arrest with a GPS tracker.

A woman who identified herself as Rawls' aunt said he didn't throw the chemical on the woman, described what happened as a "tussle" and said Rawls suffered burns on his leg, from his knee to his foot.

She said she doesn't think family will be able to post the bond and had no comment on allegations that Rawls turned off the water. 

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