Man arrested for sexual battery bolsters calls for women’s self-defense

NOW: Man arrested for sexual battery bolsters calls for women’s self-defense

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- Danger can strike at any time, and in this case, in broad daylight.

32-year-old Bryan Ploughe is behind bars at the St. Joseph county jail on a $25,000 bond.

He faces three counts of sexual battery and one count of rape.

According to court documents obtained by ABC57, Ploughe drove to the gas station in a white Ford Taurus and snuck up behind women getting gas, grabbing and touching them inappropriately.

After hearing about this case—we decided to reach out to someone who actually teaches women’s self-defense, like Hannah McGuin.

“We very much, and I think a lot of women too, have this mindset of ‘oh this happens in movies, oh I read it on the news, but it doesn’t happen to me,’” she said.

At Gracie Jiu Jitsu South Bend— Co-owner John and Hannah McGuin say the number one thing we can do to keep ourselves safe is to always be aware of our surroundings.

“How are we constantly being aware?” McGuin said. “So, if I’m pumping gas, for example, like these ladies were, am I on my phone? Am I paying attention to the people around me?”

They say learning self-defense can be very empowering, particularly for women and those of smaller stature.

“I think there’s a common conception that the bigger, stronger opponent can really hold you down,” said Jiu Jitsu student Yesenia Nieves. “And women’s self-defense really just shows the opposite; that you can actually leverage your body and protect yourself and survive in those kinds of situations.”

“Being someone smaller, you still have a chance of winning,” said student Elizabeth Carillo.

They say someone like Ploughe is the perfect predator to guard yourself against.

The first known sexual assault he committed, according to police, was in late July, then again in late August until he was finally arrested Aug. 30.

All three attacks were in broad daylight, between 3 and 5 p.m.

Court documents show Ploughe admitted to committing these violations during his lunch breaks from work.

South Bend Police declined to comment on this open investigation.

Ploughe's next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 14.

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