Tennessee man accused of sexual assault at tornado shelter

Published 8:32 am Thursday, March 12, 2020

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Tennessee man has been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting two women in a temporary tornado shelter.

The women told police that Cory Sullivan was on a cot beside theirs at the shelter in a Nashville recreation center, according to an affidavit filed in General Sessions Court early Monday. They said the problems started on Sunday when Sullivan took an interest in them, trying to befriend them and buy them food.

At one point, Sullivan drugged them by “grabbing them by the hair, pulling back their head, and stuffing a strip of suboxone dissolvable strip in their mouth,” according to the affidavit. Later, he began kissing and groping them, it said, adding the women told Sullivan numerous times that this was unwanted.

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A witness nearby observed what was going on and heard the women protesting and told Sullivan, “She said ‘Stop,’” according to the affidavit. When he did not quit, the women told sheriff’s deputies at the shelter what was happening and Sullivan was detained, according to the affidavit.

He is charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for drugging the women and two counts of sexual battery. Sullivan was being held Monday on an $80,000 bond.

Online court records do not list an attorney for Sullivan.

Joel Sullivan — no relation to Cory Sullivan — is the regional executive for the Tennessee region of the American Red Cross. He said their goal is to provide a “safe and comfortable environment” for the storm victims. That includes security. He said about 100 people were in the shelter at the time.

“Once deputies were made aware of the problem, they immediately stopped it,” Sullivan said.

The National Weather Services has said a storm spawned at least six tornadoes, killing 24 people in the pre-dawn hours last Tuesday. Most of the victims died in Putnam County, about an hour east of Nashville. Thousands of homes and businesses in Middle Tennessee were damaged or destroyed.