A night spent playing cards and flirting turned violent in early February when a Columbus man sexually assaulted a woman in her home off Glenmere Drive, according to the victim's court testimony.
Corderell St. George faced rape and false imprisonment charges during a Monday morning Recorder's Court hearing. The 23-year-old turned himself in Friday after police released a notice that he was sought in connection to the crime.
On Feb. 5, the victim agreed to a face-to-face rendezvous with St. George after chatting with him for days through text and social media, Columbus Police Special Victim's Unit Sgt. Mark Richards told the court. She picked him up from a car wash and drove him back to her home, where the two spent the evening talking, Richards said.
According to the victim, that amicable beginning shifted quickly when St. George, seemingly without provocation, began physically assaulting her.
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"He just hauled off and hit me, somewhere near my face," the woman told the court.
When the victim tried to break for the door, St. George dragged her into the bedroom, Richards and the victim said. There, he is accused of raping her and forcing her to preform other sexual acts. The woman twice tried to flee — both times unlocking the bolts on the front door, but St. George continued to punch and choke her, the victim said.
"Even when I stopped fighting him, he was still choking me," she said. "I felt like he was going to kill me."
At one point, St. George is accused of smashing the woman's head against the wall when she denied him sex. Police later found abrasions on her head, as well as bruises on her arms and neck.
After the assault, the woman made a final bid for freedom. When St. George agreed to allow her to go to the bathroom, she said she ran to a neighbor's home and immediately called 911. "I knew the door was unlocked because I unlocked it the other two times I tried to run," she said.
St. George later told investigators he did have sex with the woman at her home but denied the rape allegations. He turned himself in after a friend called to inform him that police had released a warrant for his arrest, Richards said.
Attorney Mark Shelnutt, who represented the defendant, spent more than 10 minutes of Monday's hearing questioning both the victim and Richards for specifics about the attack. His examination drew Judge Michael Cielinski's ire several times, particularly his questions over the both the victim's and suspect's current and past relationships.
"I was just trying to establish that he's in a relationship," Shelnutt explained after Cielinski reprimanded him for a question relating to St. George's girlfriend.
"That has nothing to do with rape," Cielinski retorted.
Cielinski set no bond on St. George's rape charge. A $25,000 bond was set for the false imprisonment charge. His case will be forwarded to Muscogee County Superior Court.