Winchester man held on sexual assault charges, more women coming forward
By: Kate Uptergrove
Approximately 25 girls, ranging in age from 14-17, have come forward with complaints of sexual assault against 19-year-old Joshua D. Witkowski, of the 200 block of Ballwin Avenue in Winchester.
Witkowski, who is believed to have been perpetrating these crimes over the past two to three years, has been charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old West County girl in May. DNA evidence was used to link Witkowski to the crime.
Manchester Police arrested Witkowski on May 16, but released him pending further investigation and application of warrants. He was re-arrested on Sept. 28.
At that time, Manchester Police requested that other possible victims come forward, either contacting the police directly at 227-1410 or 527-9200, or by anonymously contacting St. Louis Regional CrimeStoppers at (866) 317-8477.
“We’ve had about 25 phone calls,” reported Det. Sgt. Dan Rehm on Oct. 4, “most of them credible.”
“Of the girls who are agreeing to make reports, we’re trying to get them processed as fast as possible and forwarded to the prosecuting attorney’s office,” he said.
Rehm noted that “at least two, possibly three” other municipalities are involved in the investigation of the assaults, which took place in multiple West County locations.
According to Rehm, “about 70 percent of the girls received a friend request on Facebook saying something like ‘I think you’re cute; I’d like to meet you.’”
“After talking for a while, they’d agree to meet and things would go downhill from there,” Rehm said.
He noted that most of the girls had no idea who Witkowski was when they received the request and he cautioned parents to be vigilant in knowing who their kids are talking to and meeting through Facebook.
“Parents, know what your kids are doing,” Rehm advised. “Know who their friends are. If possible, limit their access to Facebook and make sure that you meet the people they are meeting.”
Rehm noted that the only offenses that can be tried in the criminal court system are those which Witkowski committed after age 17. All other offenses would fall under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court, and due to the time frame of the assaults, it is possible that the statue of limitations may have run out in some cases.
Manchester Police continue to ask possible victims to come forward by contacting police directly at 227-1410 or 527-9200, or by anonymously contacting St. Louis Regional CrimeStoppers at (866) 317-8477.
As of 10 a.m. Oct. 4, Witkowski was still being held on a $15,000 bond.