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Indianapolis man charged after 11-year-old girl reports being assaulted in park

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office has charged James Kenneth Howard Jr. with two counts of child molesting, one count of kidnapping and one count of confinement.

INDIANAPOLIS — IMPD is investigating after a child was assaulted in a park on the near east side.

Neighbors along Forest Manor Avenue say police were all over Legacy Park of Hope Tuesday night, investigating after an 11-year-old girl told them a man sexually assaulted her there. 

After police issued an alert about an alleged suspect in the case, reports say they arrested 51-year-old James Kenneth Howard Jr., of Indianapolis.

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According to court documents, the girl went to Legacy Park on Forest Manor Avenue around 5:40 p.m. Aug. 16. The girl told police she was sitting on a bench watching Netflix on her phone when the man left the bench he was sitting on and grabbed her from behind. She said he put a rag in her mouth and pulled her over to a wooded area where he assaulted her. 

The girl told police she kept kicking and pushing the man until he left. She then went and found her phone and called police.

Police came across Howard while canvassing the area the next day. Howard matched the description of the suspect and told police "he would never do that to a kid."

Credit: IMPD
James Kenneth Howard Jr.

Howard was wearing a hat with the words "Bad Boy" on it, which matched what the suspect was wearing and was seen in surveillance video from homes in the area. He also had an orange phone, which was described by the victim, along with a black rag, which matched what the girl said the man put in her mouth.

One neighbor, who didn’t want to give his name, said he hoped police would patrol the area more often, especially in light of what allegedly happened Tuesday. 

Credit: WTHR

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“These children are out here, and we need to do everything we can to keep them safe,” he said. 

Another neighbor told 13News parks should be a safe place for children.

"For us, it's unsettling. Kids should be able to come out and play and not be scared,” said Jennifer McCommon.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office has charged Howard with two counts of child molesting, one count of kidnapping and one count of confinement.

Howard made his initial court appearance Friday.

“The courage of the survivor cannot be overstated,” Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said. “Her actions and information provided by the community put us in a position to file this case.”

Howard is being held on a $200,000 bond. His trial is initially set for November.

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