Woman fights off rape attempt in Greektown Casino garage

- A woman is followed then forced to fight off an attacker after walking into the parking garage of the Greektown casino.

The 21-year-old suspect is in custody tonight. It is really a reminder for women to always be aware of your surroundings - you never who may be watching you.

"(I thought) maybe it was a joke or one of my friends or someone grabbing me," said Neishara Pope. "Once I realized he applied more pressure to my neck, I realized it was real."

This was no joke - and it didn't take long for Neishara Pope to realize she was being attacked by someone who followed her from work downtown - to the Greektown Casino parking garage.

It was last Thursday at 10 p.m. when the 29-year-old mother of two made her way to her car. She says someone quickly grabbed her from behind.

"He grabbed me with his arm and his hand on my mouth," Pope said. "He told me to 'Shut the f up and unbuckle your pants.' He was trying to pull my pants down from the back."

Police say her attacker was 21-year-old Cortez Bender. Pope had to think fast - once she says she realized the man wasn't that big, she decided to fight back.

"I struck him and we struggled for a bit," Pope said. "I knocked his hand off my mouth and I was able to start screaming and he took off running."

The scared suspect took off, but Greektown security and Detroit police responded quickly. They were able to access very clear surveillance video and investigators tracked down Bender.

He has since been charged with assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct.

"I am blessed he didn't succeed at what he was doing," Pope said. "I go to work, I go home. I have children I don't bother anybody. For that to happen, it is something that is real stressful."

Thinking back, Pope says she does remember seeing the man in the parking garage elevator - never expecting he would be the same man she would be fighting off minutes later.

"Just pay attention to my surroundings little bit more," she said. "There's only so much we can do without somebody thinking it is okay they put their hands on me it was never okay. You don't do that."

Pope is just glad police were able to arrest the man before he attacks any other unsuspecting woman.

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