Arrest made in May sex assault of transgender woman

On May 28, 2017 Austin police say a transgender woman was sexually assaulted at her Southeast Austin home. Police say she knew the suspect.

“The victim stated, after he came over they were hooking up and the suspect then got rough,” said Sgt. Sandra Benningfield, Austin Police Department.

After screaming for him to leave, the woman hid in a closet, with a hammer and she hit him once he found her. But investigators say he took her hammer and hit her back, in the head.

“At this point she doesn't remember anything else, until she woke up in her bathroom and she was bloody. He was still there. He told her to stay there, she ended up hearing him in the bedroom looking around,” said Benningfield.

Even after slashing his tires to prevent him from getting away, the suspect drove off.  The victim went straight in for a rape kit.  That's when DNA is entered into a database called CODIS.

“The DNA was turned in immediately. It does take time, once the DNA is processed, to put it in to CODIS to run through and get the results,” said Benningfield.

But it took more than seven months to make an arrest.  Police arrested 29-year-old Eric Nelson, who they say does not live in Austin, and was booked in Bell County. For the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, she says she is still processing what happened to her.

“Sexual assault overall is an underreported crime. In the transgender community we haven't had very many, but recently we've had more and hopefully we will let the transgender community know that we take their sexual assaults just as serious as the rest,” said Benningfield.

Police do not believe this was a hate crime, specifically targeting the transgender community.

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