A man accused of sexually assaulting a woman outside a liquor store in downtown New Britain in October appeared in court on Monday and his family is questioning the charges.
Joel St. Peter, 24, of New Britain, is accused of sexually assaulting a woman walking on Lafayette Street, near Main Street, just before 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 21, according to police. Part of the crime was caught on video, according to police.
Police said the victim did not know the man and released surveillance images of him on Friday in the hopes that someone would recognize him and help police capture a suspect.
On Friday night, police arrested St. Peter and said tips from the public led to that arrest.
"It's a relief knowing that someone like that's off the streets because a lot of women, they walk around defenseless, and to have these people out here like that, it's disgusting," Daniel Autunno, of New Britain, said.
St. Peter appeared in court on Monday and his cousin said he is mentally challenged and knew the victim.
"I don't think he would have raped somebody or hold her hostage or something. I don't think he would do that," Michelle LaRochelle said. "He probably wanted to kiss her and, who knows what happened."
St. Peter has been charged with first-degree sexual assault and first-degree kidnapping.
The court file is sealed, and police said the victim is relieved the suspect is in police custody.
St. Peter was originally held on a $400,000 bond, but he is now being held on $750,000.
He is due back in court in December.