TAMPA (FOX 13) - The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says a 78-year-old man grabbed a teen who was walking home from school and tried to force himself on her.
The attack happened around 2:45 Monday afternoon. The 15-year-old victim says she had just gotten off the school bus and was walking home along Dale Mabry Highway, near Tahoe Court, when a man came up to her.
"He asked me if I had any money or any food for him and I told him 'no,' and then he reached out and he grabbed my hand and he was reading my palm," she told FOX 13 News.
She says she started feeling uneasy when the man began to reveal he knew things about her personal life, like how old she was and where she went to high school.
Then, she says, his comments turned sexual.
"He started to tell me that he wanted to do all these sexual things to me,” she said. "He made a step closer, and then I pushed him, and when I pushed him he went ahead and he grabbed me and he was trying to kiss me."
The teen was able to shove the man away. She ran home and called 911.
The sheriff's office says it didn't take them long to track down the man, now identified as Adoor Venugopal.
"Because of her good description and calm demeanor while with our deputies, within one hour of the report we had the suspect under arrest," HCSO's Danny Alvarez said.
Venugopal was charged, booked, and bonded out of jail for the felony battery charge less than 24 hours after the incident.
His speedy release brought his latest victim to tears. She stayed home from school Tuesday and says she's afraid to leave her house since her attacker lives so close.
"Kinda like heartbreaking and terrifying to know that he was already out,” she said. “It made me feel like I didn’t matter."
It turns out, this isn't the first time the older man has been picked-up for grabbing a teenage girl.
According to online court records, Venugopal has been arrested four times over the last 16 years for battery.
“He needs to be put back in jail, and he needs to stay there," the victim said.
If you’ve been victimized or approached by the 78-year-old, call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.