BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – It had all the ingredients for a tragedy: Two teen girls walking home from school when suddenly, from behind, a stranger grabs one of the girls by her breasts. The start of a horror story? It might have been, if not for the two girls’ aggressive defense against the assailant.
The two girls, 14-year old eighth graders, were walking home from Freedom Middle School, heading east on Hageman Road at about 3:30 the afternoon of April 25.
A security camera at a church on Hageman Road caught a faraway image of the girls walking down the sidewalk when the stranger approached from behind. The girls ran to one of their homes in a panic, frantically trying to enter the code to unlock the door. The victim immediately called her mother at work.
Suzanne Mendoza told her daughter to hang up and call 911. Then she got back on the phone for further explanation.
“A man had run up behind her and grabbed her from behind by the breasts,” Mendoza said her daughter told her. “She pushed him off, he ran in front of her, and grabbed her forcefully by the arm, attempting to pull her away from her friend and in the direction where he came from. … She hit him and her friend hit him as well and he lost his grip and they were able to run away from him.”
The Mendozas filed a police report. Then they had the girls, separately, make sketches of the alleged assailant. The drawings of the suspect – perhaps 5-foot-6, ball cap, glasses, goatee – are remarkably similar.
The girls suspected the man had come from a side street, so Suzanne started knocking on doors.
One homeowner’s Ring camera had snapped a shot of a pickup parked on the street. Out of place, and just around the same time of the incident.
He shared the photo, and Suzanne posted it on social media. Friends shared it, and shared it again.
”We received a phone call from a family member,” she said, “saying that one of her social media followers responded to the post that she reposted and said ‘Hey, I just saw that truck in my neighborhood.’”
The next day, April 26, Suzanne’s husband Victor drove to the neighborhood where the truck had been spotted. Lo and behold – there it was at a stoplight, with the same unique customizations.
“My husband pulled up next to him near Veterans Elementary,” she said. “He was just kind of circling the neighborhood. And my husband pulled up next to him to see if he was matching the description that my daughter gave and as soon as he saw that he was he called me and said hey I found him.”
A chase ensued – high speeds, in and out of traffic – all the way from northwest Bakersfield to the southeast – to a carwash on Niles Street where the man’s wife and others were waiting for him. The man’s wife declared her husband innocent. Finally, Suzanne stepped forward.
“I talked to the wife,” Mendoza said. “I said, ‘Hey look, I’m a wife as well. I get it, you’re gonna stand by your husband. But I’m also a mother.’”
Police came, and an arrest was made – Timothy Aik Kensavath, age 23. Bakersfield police booked him on charges of attempted kidnapping and sexual battery, According to BPD spokesman Sgt. Robert Pair, Kensavath is due in court for criminal arraignment on May 18.
Is there a lesson here? Oh yes.
“Moms, go with your gut,” Mendoza said. “Kids, go with your gut. Be vigilant, be aware of your surroundings. I know in this day and age, kids are walking, looking down at their phone. Be aware of what’s around you.” The victim is still shaken up. She’s getting counseling but feeling lucky to be free of the alleged kidnappers’ clutches.
Efforts to contact Kensavath Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful.