CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Earlier this month inside the Cullman Walmart, Jessica Pettus’ daughter looked up at her mother in horror. The 13-year-old’s eyes were huge, and her face was as white as a ghost. Pettus knew something was wrong.
Her daughter told her a man had groped her as he walked by them. She looked like she was about to cry.
Now, just two weeks after the incident, Thomas White, 24, has been arrested and charged with felony sexual abuse related to the incident, according to court records.
White, a resident of Warrior, Alabama, was arrested on June 17 and placed in jail on a $3,000 bond, court records show.
A police report from the incident shows that White admitted to authorities that he had intentionally grabbed the child’s butt “because he thought she was cute.” The report also said that security video of the interaction has been obtained by police.
A cell phone video of the incident’s aftermath posted by the victim’s mother went viral on social media. The video shows White asking Pettus for his keys back. Pettus told CBS 42 that White had dropped the keys when she tried to stop the man from leaving the store. She refused to give the keys back until the police arrived.
“You’re going to go to jail today,” Pettus told White in the video. “You are a creep.”
Authorities allege that White “grabbed the victim’s buttocks and left his hand there as he passed by her,” according to the complaint that led to White’s arrest.
Pettus said that her daughter is OK, but that she feels a little less safe in her hometown.
If convicted, White could face up to 10 years in prison for the offense.