A woman suspected of sexually assaulting and trying to kidnap a 17-year-old girl who jumped from her moving car in Bridgeport, Connecticut, told police she offered the teen a ride because she looked cold, according to court documents.
Towana Randall, 38, of New Haven was arrested and charged with third-degree sexual assault, first-degree unlawful restraint and second-degree reckless endangerment. She was arraigned in court Tuesday.
The teen told police she was walking to school on Boston Avenue near Palisade Avenue around 7:15 a.m. Oct. 5 when a charcoal-gray Toyota Corolla approached her and the driver lured her into the car, then attacked her, police said.
The incident is shown on surveillance video captured by the city's Safe Corridors program, which was established by the Bridgeport school board and police department.
The footage has aired on television news reports nationwide, shows what appears to be a teenage girl open the door of a moving four-door sedan and tumble out. It also shows the driver make a U-turn, double back on the opposite side of the road, then keep going.
The victim told police she dove from the car after Randall reached across her and touched her breasts over her sweater, according to the warrant for her arrest. She said Randall laughed at her after the teen jumped from the moving car and yelled "haaah" when she turned around and drove past her.
According to the warrant, Randall had lied to the victim about her age and told her she was 18.
But Randall called police and told them, "What's being said in the media is not true." She said she offered the teen a ride because she looked cold, according to the warrant.
Randall said that shortly after the victim climbed in, she noticed "maybe two or three" $1 bills were "missing form a cup holder" in the car, the documents say. She then grabbed the teen's hair and yelled, "Yo, where's my (expletive) money?" Police said the outburst spooked the teen, who jumped out of the car.
"I grabbed her hair because I wanted my money back," Randall told police, according to the warrant. "That's just a normal reaction for anybody."
The victim identified Randall from a photo lineup because of her freckles, telling police Randall "kind of looked like her in the way her face looks with the black dots in her face," according to the warrant.
A man claiming to have had a "romantic relationship" with Randall 13 years ago told police Randall is a frequent PCP user, but police said investigators have not confirmed the tip.
Police got at least three tips from the community , including one reporting a car with a missing bumper was parked at Chapel Street and Sherman Avenue.
Tips led investigators to the car they believe Randall was driving during the attempted abduction. Police said they seized the vehicle, which belongs to Randall's mother.
Randall's bond was set at $100,000 after her arrest. She appeared in court Tuesday, where a judge increased her bond to $125,000 because of her lengthy criminal history, which includes 15 prior convictions, four of which were felonies.
Police said Randall has has "an extensive criminal record that includes robbery, larceny, and selling hallucinogenic narcotics."
She was due to be on probation for four more years in connection with a burglary conviction.
Randall is being represented by a public defender, who said she just graduated from Gateway Community College.
She remained in custody Tuesday and is due back in court Nov. 3.
Police said they continue to work with the victim to "get her the help she needs."