Texas

Suspect assaulted 8-year-old in Austin library restroom, police say

bbastible@star-telegram.com

Hubert Justin Powell, 30, is accused of trying to sexually assault an 8-year-old girl in a bathroom stall in a North Austin library on Saturday.
Hubert Justin Powell, 30, is accused of trying to sexually assault an 8-year-old girl in a bathroom stall in a North Austin library on Saturday.

A 30-year-old man accused of trying to kidnap one girl and of trying to sexually assault another in a restroom stall in an Austin public library remained in jail Monday, police said.

Hubert Justin Powell walked into a women’s restroom Saturday afternoon and dragged an 8-year-old girl back into a stall, police said.

A female patron heard screaming and ran inside to see a man through a stall crack with his feet on a toilet, his back up against the stall door and the girl on his lap.

The girl later told police Powell’s hand was so tight over her mouth that she couldn’t breathe.

During a struggle, the patron pulled the girl from the stall, but Powell was able to pull off the girl’s shorts and underwear, police said.

Other patrons guarded Powell in the restroom until police arrived.

Once on the scene, the officers discovered that a similar incident had occurred at the same library earlier in the day. An 11-year-old girl said a man, identified as Powell, tried to kidnap her but dropped her when she screamed for help.

Powell approached the girl again while she was in the book checkout line, but another person warned Powell to leave her alone.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the Austin American-Statesman, Powell told officials he wanted more time to take the girl’s clothes off and that he would have raped her three times.

Powell was in the Travis County Jail Monday facing charges of aggravated kidnapping and unlawful restraint under the age of 17, according to online records, with bail set at a total of $320,000.

“Based on his display here, he is somebody who is obviously a danger to the community,” police spokeswoman Destiny Winston said at a news conference. “Kudos to the citizens, library employees and anybody there who was involved. But also to the victims, they yelled and screamed loud enough so bystanders were able to help them.”

She cautioned everyone to be mindful of their surroundings, especially parents.

“It can happen anywhere anytime to anyone,” she said. “Just always be vigilant.”

@bryanbastible

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