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some text Richard Witherow

Police say a 46-year-old Chattanooga man held a box cutter to a woman's throat and brutally raped her in a small park on West M.L. King Boulevard on Sunday.

Richard Witherow is being held on a $1 million bond and is charged with one count of aggravated rape, according to his affidavit.

The woman, who will not be identified by the Times Free Press because she is an alleged victim of sexual assault, told police that Witherow punched her in the face, choked her and raped her Sunday evening.

She said she met Witherow in Miller Park and they went to a grocery store to buy beer and cigarettes. She said they then walked to 472 W. M.L. King Blvd. and sat down in a small recreational area that includes a bench, shed and a gazebo.

She said she smoked and drank with Witherow for about an hour, then decided to leave. But when she got up to leave, Witherow offered her $20 in exchange for sexual favors.

She refused, she told police. But then Witherow gave her the money and said she didn't need to do anything for it. She accepted, but when she tried to leave, he became angry and told her she couldn't take his money for nothing.

She said she gave the money back, but he grabbed her by the hair, pulled her behind the gazebo and raped her.

She lost consciousness multiple times during the rape because Witherow held her in a choke hold, the woman told police.

Police said the woman had obvious injuries that supported her story, and investigators used phone records to tie Witherow to the alleged attack.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@times freepress.com with tips or story ideas.

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