HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – The man police arrested and charged with sexual battery against a Hollywood teenager appeared in court Friday.

According to police, 24-year-old Freddie Lee Gardner, Jr. was arrested December 26, 2013 around 5 p.m.

Gardner was arrested at 1524 N. 22nd Avenue in Hollywood and was charged with two counts of sexual battery and kidnapping.

In court, the judge read the suspect his charges.

“I find probable cause for two counts of sexual battery on a victim over the age of 12-years-old.”

Gardner is being held without bond at the Broward County Jail.

Officers said the arrest was partly due to the spot on description of the suspect given by the victim.

Police released a sketch of the man and tips from the community reportedly helped lead to an arrest.

Officers said the 17-year-old girl assaulted was walking at 24th Avenue and Jackson Street around 9:44 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 20th when a man approached her, according to police.

“I consider him a predator because what he did to this victim was unspeakable,” said Chief Frank Fernandez with the Hollywood Police Department.

“It does not appear to be a random act. It looks like just basically he targeted this individual, knew her routine and forced her into the vehicle,” Chief Fernandez added.

The man reportedly forced the teenager inside his older, dirty light gray or gold minivan.

He then drove to an area near the 2700th block of Pierce Street where allegedly committed sexual battery and then drove off.

At the suspect’s grandfather’s home, relatives did not say much.

Gardner was arrested at his grandfather’s home after a huge push to find him.

On Christmas Eve, investigators passed out fliers showing this composite drawing of him.  When neighbors realized Gardner was the suspect — they called police.

“That’s awesome, I’m really glad they got him off the street,” said neighbor Vanessa Christoffer.

“That’s very good,” Elkee Etienne told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana of the arrest. “I have a 12-year-old daughter and she takes the bus so that was very scary for me.”

Chief Fernandez said he is concerned this may not be the first time the suspect has committed a similar crime.

“Someone going to this extreme always concerns us.  It may not be the first time they do this,” Chief Fernandez said. “We’re asking those victims, please let us help you.”

If anyone has any information that could help police, contact Hollywood Police Department at (954) 967-HELP or contact Broward County Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS.


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