Following a deadly tornado that roared through Tennessee last week, a homeless man used the opportunity to prey upon two young women who took up residence at a storm shelter set up after the twister, police said.
Cory Sullivan tried to “befriend” the pair of victims he was supposedly sleeping beside at a Nashville storm shelter, but wound up force-feeding the women opioids and groping them instead, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
The 45-year-old bearded homeless man, who had “taken an interest” in the two storm shelter residents upon arrival, first offered to buy food for his new neighbors, who are half his age, police said. The two women, also drifters, are aged 18 and 20 years old, police said.
Sullivan’s initial goodwill, however, allegedly spiraled into a series of unwanted and seemingly violent advances.
Sullivan first allegedly yanked their hair back and force-fed the two unidentified victims a Suboxone strip — a dissolvable film containing active opioids, which is primarily used by recovering drug addicts to ease withdrawal symptoms. but can be abused.
“They stated that he did this by grabbing them by the hair, pulling back on their head, and stuffing a strip of Suboxone dissolvable strip in their mouth,” the arrest affidavit stated.
Throughout the day, Sullivan repeatedly followed the women and touched them inappropriately, and in at least one instance, the man licked his hand and then proceeded to touch their backs, police said. He then trailed them to a nearby pizzeria where he attempted to further grope and kiss the two on the neck, the affidavit states.
Once the trio returned to the sports complex, Sullivan allegedly resumed trying to fondle and kiss the two women while they laid in their shelter cots. At one point, another individual sleeping nearby — who reportedly witnessed the incident — demanded he quit harassing his bedside neighbors.
“She said stop,” the person told Sullivan, according to the arrest affidavit.
The warning, however, apparently fell on deaf ears.
Sullivan “continued to kiss and grope” the two women, who eventually reported him to sheriff’s deputies on scene, police said. Authorities arrested Sullivan a short time later and charged the homeless Nashville man with two counts of sexual battery and two counts of aggravated assault.
The American Red Cross, who helped coordinate disaster relief efforts at the Nashville shelter, said their workers were cooperating with investigators.
“We are saddened about the unfortunate incident that occurred at a shelter Sunday night,” the organization said in a statement to Oxygen.com.
“Our top priority is working with our partners to help keep everyone safe and comfortable in emergency shelters. … [Metro Nashville Police Department] officers have maintained a constant presence in our shelters since last week’s tornado, and we are thankful for their quick and professional response.”
A number of twisters that struck Tennessee on March 3 have killed at least 24 people, displaced hundreds, and flattened entire neighborhoods.
However, police noted that both Sullivan — and the two unnamed victims he’s accused of assaulting — were all living on the streets prior to the storm.
“These particular individuals were not impacted by the storm,” Don Aaron, public affairs manager for Nashville Metro Police Department, told Oxygen.com.
Aaron noted that a large demographic of Nashville's population flocked to the shelter, located adjacent to the city’s historical Music Row district, following the disaster last week.
Sullivan has a flurry of past criminal convictions stretching back to 1999, which include drug possession, assault, drunk driving, and criminal trespassing, court documents show.
The 45-year-old is scheduled to appear in court on March 16. He’s being held on a $80,000 bond. Sullivan’s public defender, Brian Griffith, didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment on Wednesday.
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