Letter provides clues in Lee County sexual assault case

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. Bond was set at $400,000 Sunday for a 42-year-old man accused of forcibly dragging a woman into a vacant house and sexually assaulting her.

Anthony Smith Jr., of the 100 block of Eland Drive, faces five felony charges. The victim was able to get away and call 911 after the alleged assault Saturday, deputies said. Smith was arrested later that day at his home.

The sheriff’s office didn’t specify the location of the alleged assault.

But a letter to residents of the gated Island Vista Estates from Community Manager Dawn Phillips says a community resident had been arrested Saturday in connection to at least one of two sexual assaults there within the past two weeks.

The address listed for Smith in sheriff’s office records is within Island Vista Estates.

The letter warns community residents to keep their doors and windows locked, turn on their porch and patio lights at night and report suspicious activity to law enforcement. It also says the community is implementing additional security measures and has asked law enforcement for increased patrols and presence.

Island Vista resident Bryan Pemberton said he saw a man being taken into sheriff’s office custody Saturday and recalled a frightening scene from a few weeks ago when he was outside with his daughter.

“A woman and a man had walked through the yards towards an abandoned home over there, and about 25 minutes later I heard screaming,” Pemberton said. “And a woman came running through the houses and telling me that she was about to be raped, some guy was going to rape her.”

The woman wouldn’t allow Pemberton to call 911 and instead used his phone to call friends, who came and picked her up, he said.

Smith is facing two charges of burglary with assault or battery, one charge of sexual assault on a victim 12 years of age or older, one kidnapping charge and one battery charge.

The judge who set his bond Sunday also ordered him to wear a monitoring device. Smith has another court appearance set for 8:30 a.m. July 5.

A copy of the letter to Island Vista Estates residents is below:

Reporter:Taylor Bisacky