Homeless man faces felony rape charge
By jeanne starmack
A homeless man with mental-health problems is charged with raping a 33-year-old Youngstown woman who tried to help him, a police report indicates.
Joseph Battisti, 25, who last lived on Parkway Street in Struthers, was arrested Friday and arraigned on a felony rape charge in Struthers Municipal Court, said Struthers Police Detective Ray Greenwood.
Battisti was in the Mahoning County Jail on Monday. His case will be presented to a Mahoning County grand jury Thursday, Greenwood said.
The victim told police she knows Battisti through a mutual acquaintance. She said she felt sorry for him and wanted to help him.
She told police July 17 that Battisti called her a week earlier to tell her he was homeless and needed a ride “to an undisclosed location.”
She told police that when she picked him up, he was acting normal. But as they continued to drive, he became agitated and hostile.
The report indicates that at 6 a.m. July 9, they stopped at Morgan Oil on Lowellville Road in Struthers. Battisti was thrown out of the store for obnoxious behavior, the victim told police.
The woman, who had also gone into the store, said he met her at her car, and she decided to find him somewhere to stay.
She said that they drove east, and he was screaming and calling her “Satan.” She pulled to the side of Lowellville Road past Narcissa Street, police said.
The woman told police she got out of her car and ordered Battisti to get out. He did, but attacked her on the side of the road, she said.
She told police she did not report the rape right away because she felt “ashamed and embarrassed.”
Greenwood said that police found Battisti later in the morning July 9 and had him hospitalized, not knowing he would be a suspect in a rape case.
“We got him 150 yards from the crime scene,” Greenwood said.
Court records show that Battisti was on parole for aggravated menacing. He had pleaded guilty to that charge in April 2011.
He had been allowed to participate in the county’s Mental Health Court program, but was terminated from the program Jan. 19 after not complying with its terms. One court document indicates he did not take his medications.
In March, Battisti was put under five years of monitoring by the Ohio Adult Parole Authority.
His parole officer and her supervisor at the APA’s Youngstown office referred questions to a public relations spokesman in Columbus.
That spokesman, Mike Davis, said Battisti complied with an order to visit his parole officer every month. Davis also said the parole officer was trying to find housing for him.
Davis would not say if Battisti’s parole officer knew whether he was taking medications or going to counseling.
Greenwood said Battisti has been homeless for some time, but stays around Struthers because his family lived there.