Man responded to 'visceral scream for help' at beach

September 23, 2010 3:42:27 PM PDT
A Chicago area man is speaking out after coming to the rescue of a woman who was being attacked in a restroom at a North Side beach.Police credit Steven Kukenis with stopping the crime.

These days, there are lot fewer people at beaches than during the middle of the summer. Kukenis, who works at the beach, was in the back of a shop getting ready to open for the day a little after 12 p.m. when he heard screams coming from the women's restroom at the beach house.

" A dog would have reacted to it. It was just a severe, visceral scream for help," he said.

When Kukenis saw the struggle, he says he simply reacted, trying to get the man to stop attacking the woman, who was bleeding. After he pulled the man away, the woman was able to escape and the suspect confronted him.

"He punched me. As I got ready for him to punch me again, she ran out. He started to reach into his pocket, and I backed away," said Kukenis.

The man eventually ran off, and as Kukenis checked on the woman, another man followed the suspect on his bike and helped lead police to him. Joseph Mbatchou, 29, is charged with criminal sexual assault, misdemeanor battery and a parole violation. He is being held on $500,000 bond. Police say he tried to take the woman's pants off and punched her in the face several times.

Kukenis says he is just glad someone was around to help her.

"I didn't chase after him. I was like, 'Fine, go ahead.' But the police captured him," Kukenis said.

"I'm glad he worked with us and hope he works with us for a long time. The neighborhood is proud of him," said owner Tom Foley.

The victim is reportedly very grateful to Kukenis. The suspect, Mbatchou, will be in court, and it may be possible for Kukenis to confront him again. He has volunteered to be a witness and is also willing to testify as a victim for the punch that was thrown at him.


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