Police: Student sexually assaulted at Winthrop University

A woman's screams at 2 a.m. may have saved her life.

Police said a 19-year-old student at Winthrop University was sexually assaulted when she was walking home to her dorm early Friday.

The student was walking from Richardson Hall to Margaret Nance Hall when she heard a noise behind her, police said. She was approached in an alley behind her dorm.

Winthrop University Police Chief Frank Zebedis said the woman had never seen the suspect before.

"He presented what she thought was a weapon, approached her, grabbed her and guided her to an isolated area where the assault took place," Zebedis said.

The area where the student was walking was well lit and considered safe, police said.

The victim screamed, and the noise alerted several students inside the dorm right where it was happening. They called 911. Two Winthrop police officers on patrol were there in only seconds.

When officers arrived, they saw 24-year-old John Roddey Jr. walking away from the scene. He was stopped and later arrested.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Police arrest man after sex assault on Winthrop campus

On Friday, he stood in court with his father, who broke down in tears after hearing the charges against his son.

"I'm just trying to understand it all," said John Roddey Sr.

Police wouldn't discuss what weapon Roddey might have used to threaten the victim. Zebedis said Roddey drove to the campus and parked before the attack, but that the car was not part of the crime.

He is not a student at Winthrop, but attends classes at York Technical College in Rock Hill.

Winthrop students reacted with shock when Channel 9 told them of the assault. A campus-wide alert did not go out about the incident, either by email of mobile app.

That was a concern for freshman Taylor Smith.

“They usually will give us text alerts like saying something happened, but I didn't get anything," she said.

Police said such an alert was unnecessary because the arrest happened so quickly, there was no danger to students or anyone on campus.

Carolyn Wilkerson said such an incident is extremely rare, but still unnerving.

"I always feel safe. I mean they tell us that would never happen," she said.

The victim will be OK physically, police said. She told them the suspect assaulted her and took pictures of her during the crime.

She was taken to Piedmont Medical Center to be treated.

In court, Roddey told the judge he had never been arrested. A check of his background revealed no criminal record.

Roddey asked for a public defender. His father left the courtroom in tears, escorted by a Rock Hill police officer.

Roddey could face a maximum of 30 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 30 years on the kidnapping charge.

Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com: