Christopher Torruella accused of sexually assaulting a homeless woman

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Brutal assaults sometimes go unreported in the homeless community according to experts.

But one West Palm Beach woman did come forward Monday after detectives say she was sexually assaulted and beaten at knifepoint.

West Palm Beach police say she was followed by an attacker into her homeless camp near 45th Street and Australian.

"He grabbed me and he threw me down on the ground and started punching me in the face and started choking me. He told me he wanted to see someone die because he hasn't seen anyone die before," the victim, who identified herself as Debbie, said.

Police arrested Christopher Torruella a short time later. He is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail with no bond.

Debbie says the sexual assault went on for three hours near her homeless camp.

"He had a knife to my throat. I really thought I was going to die. I told him I loved him so he wouldn't kill me," Debbie said.

Debbie says she finally got away and ran to a nearby gas station where she flagged down police.

"The detective came. They were very good to me," Debbie said.

She says she was impressed with police because the West Palm Beach officers and detectives did not judge her for being homeless.

Claudia Tuck with Palm Beach County's Human Services Department says many of the homeless assaults go unreported.

"Homeless people who tell us they are victims tell us they don't report it sometimes. What the reason is for that I don't know," Tuck said.

Debbie says the reason is often fear...fear the attackers will come back for revenge, or that police will find their hidden homeless camps.

"It is dangerous out here. We have to protect ourselves and try to hide in places we wouldn't normally be," Debbie said.

Debbie says she has a nursing degree and was a working professional until she was diagnosed with epilepsy.

She says she lost her job because she couldn't drive and ended up homeless.

She is now back on the street recovering from the assault and looking for a job.


Comments