Man arrested after girl reports mall bathroom assault

- Police in Clearwater say they've arrested the man who assaulted a young girl in a mall restroom, though he told police it was all a big mistake.

It was Friday night when a 6-year-old girl said a man followed her into a restroom at the Countryside Mall Macy's store and tried to hold her down.  He ran off when the girl began screaming, but his image was captured on surveillance cameras and was shared by police.

Monday, police said a tip identified the man in the footage as Ricky Blake Thompson of Ocala.  Detectives contacted him Monday morning and say he came to the station voluntarily.

Thompson said he was at Macy's that night to pick up his young son from his estranged wife.  He had to use the restroom and said he mistakenly went into the women's room.  On his way out, he claimed, the 6-year-old girl saw him from inside of her partially open stall and screamed. 

"No doubt, she is terrorized, traumatized and not knowing what is going to go on," said Rob Shaw, Clearwater Police Spokesman. "After failing to quiet her screams, that's when he made the hasty retreat out of the restroom."

Thompson told police he panicked and tried to put his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming.  During that process, he explained, she fell to the floor.

"He did totally the wrong thing," Shaw said. "He attempted to quiet her down, not with his words but by putting his hand over her mouth."

Thompson, 18, was on his way to jail Monday evening.  Detectives say he'll be charged with battery, but they were still investigating.

"I think our detectives are pretty confident that he wasn't there to do something of ill nature to this girl, that it was just a bad situation where he made one mistake and then he made another mistake and then, there was just this snowballing of bad choices," Shaw said.

The girl was not hurt.  Her father, through police, said he was proud of how she conducted herself during the incident and that she learned about "stranger danger" in school.

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