Social Issues

Male sex offender tries to kidnap girl in bathroom

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A Waycross man tried to grab an 11-year-old girl from the women’s bathroom at a Brunswick restaurant on Saturday, according to the Glynn County Police Department.

Police said they were called about 4:30 p.m. Saturday to the Sonny’s BBQ on New Jesup Highway after a report of an attempted kidnapping.

Officers spoke with the 11-year-old girl, who said she went into the women’s restroom inside the restaurant and a white man followed her, grabbed her around the mouth and throat and tried to subdue her.

The girl said she screamed, fought the man off and ran out of the bathroom, police said.

“(I’m) completely shocked. (It) scared me to death, gave me a heart attack because I have a daughter and I can’t even image that happening,” Mary Elizabeth Buckner, who frequents the Sonny’s, told News4Jax on Monday.

John Schuler, 40, from Waycross, was arrested inside Sonny’s and charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment and enticing a child for indecent purposes.

Schuler was convicted of child molestation in 2008 and is a registered sex offender in Georgia.

“That is totally unreal. I have grandchildren and I have two daughters of my own,” said Bethany Lee, a Brunswick resident. “These are babies you guys are messing with and you need to stop. This world is in enough of a mess as it is for us to have to keep putting up with you all.”

Some local mothers said the arrest still does not put them at ease.

“It’s scary. It’s scares me to let her go to the bathroom by herself,” Buckner said. “It’s a concern.”

Buckner said the incident prompted her to have a conversation about safety with her daughter.

“(I told her) be very careful. If anything ever happens like that, kick, scream, make a noise so you can be heard,” she said.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith also offered advice for parents, saying it’s best for them to go into a restroom with their child if they’re the same sex. He said some parents will even scope of the restroom and then take the child into a stall.

If a parent and child are not the same sex, Smith said, parents should ask an employee that is the same sex to take the child into the restroom.

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