Photo: Contributed / Contributed
BRIDGEPORT — A local man charged with choking and raping a Massachusetts woman he met on an online dating website was the latest serious felony defendant to request release from prison because of the pandemic — even as the number of inmates with COVID-19 continues to decrease.
As of Friday, the state Department of Corrections reported that nine inmates had symptoms of COVID-19 and nine staff members are currently recovering from COVID-19 symptoms. At its peak in May, 792 inmates had tested positive for the virus.
Gimel Anderson, 25, of Hawley Avenue, is charged with aggravated first-degree sexual assault, first-degree strangulation, second-degree assault and first-degree unlawful restraint.
He is being held in lieu of $750,000 bond.
His lawyer, Public Defender Brad Buchta, told Superior Court Judge Tracy Lee Dayton that his client had been seeking a speedy trial but since that couldn’t happen because of the pandemic, he now wants to be released on a reduced bond.
Buchta said Anderson would live with his fiancée in Bridgeport while he awaits trial.
However, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Colleen Zingaro objected.
“The facts in this case are very serious,” she told the judge. “He was trying to kill her. She was begging for her life.”
Judge Dayton denied Anderson’s request.
“I’m concerned for the safety of the community based on the allegations against him,” she said.
On Oct. 20, 2018, Springfield, Mass., police were called to a hospital there for an assault victim. Police said a young woman had bruises on her face and throat and cuts on her head that required stitches.
Police said the woman told them she contacted Anderson through the dating website Tagged and arranged to come to Bridgeport to meet him.
The woman picked up Anderson at his home. Police said he was carrying a bottle of beer, got into the woman’s car and then directed her to drive to Seaside Park, ostensibly so they could watch the sunset.
However, once they parked there, police said, Anderson began choking the woman and hit her in the head with the beer bottle, then raped her.
Before leaving the victim’s car, police said, Anderson took a photo with his cell phone of her driver’s license and threatened that he would come to her home and kill her if she went to police.
The woman then drove to the hospital near her home in Springfield.