Rape, kidnapping case against homeless man heads to grand jury

Rape, kidnapping case against Knoxville homeless man heads to grand jury

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David Clay appeared in court in handcuffs at his preliminary hearing on rape and kidnapping charges. David Clay appeared in court in handcuffs at his preliminary hearing on rape and kidnapping charges.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The case against a Knoxville homeless man accused of kidnapping and raping a woman last month is now heading to the grand jury.

The Knoxville Police Department says on the night of July 30, David Clay, 58, forced a woman into a building on Ailor Avenue.

Officials say he then strangled and raped her, holding her captive at knife point until she was able to escape some four hours later.

Clay appeared in Knox County Court Monday for the preliminary hearing.

6 News was in the courtroom as the victim gave her testimony about the night of the alleged rape.

David Clay, who has been in the Knox County jail since his arrest, appeared in court in handcuffs.

He's charged with aggravated rape and especially aggravated kidnapping.

As the alleged victim took the stand, Clay sat silent, listening and taking notes as she gave her testimony.

Fighting back tears, she recounted her version of the night's events.

She says she was walking from her hotel down Ailor Avenue toward the University of Tennessee campus when she was approached by a man she identified as Clay.

"I was walking by the building and he was standing outside of it. He asked if I had a cigarette. When I was handing him a cigarette, he grabbed me," she said.

She says he forced her into a nearby building.

"I tried to fight back, but that's when he threw me into the wall and knocked me unconscious," she said.

She says she awoke a short time later, lying on the floor.

"I was naked and wrapped in a rug," she said.

She claims that's when he raped her, choking her several times, using a knife to hold her against her will.

"I was laying there and he kept telling me he had to figure out what he was going to do with me," she said.

During the hearing, Clay laughed as the victim told the court what Clay said to her during the kidnapping.

"[He said] that I was going to do what he told me to do or he was going to make my life a living hell," she said.

After nearly five hours, the victim says she was finally able to escape, and ran from the building.

"They came and started knocking on a front door and that directed his attention to the front door and that's when I fled out the back door," she said.

KPD says the victim sustained injuries to her neck consistent with strangulation.

When asked by Clay's attorney if there was a possible drug connection between two, the victim denied those claims.

After listening to the testimony, the court found probable cause and bound the case over to the grand jury.

Clay has been convicted of multiple sexual battery, assault, and shoplifting charges in the past.

He is still being held in the Knox County Detention Center on a $1 million bond.

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