'My boyfriend is going to kill you': Police say woman deterred attempted rape in grocery store

Harper Ho
York Dispatch
Police are looking for a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman Wednesday at a Giant grocery store in York Township. July 8, 2021.

A York City man who allegedly tried to rape a woman Wednesday evening in a grocery store bathroom in York Township has been arrested.

Joseph Francis Martz, 26, of the 100 block of Butler Avenue, faces felony charges of attempted rape and attempted sexual assault, as well as misdemeanor indecent assault charges. 

Martz was arrested and arraigned Thursday before District Judge Scott Laird, and his bail was set at $150,000, according to court records.

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The 32-year-old woman was able to scare off her would-be attacker by saying that her boyfriend was going to kill the man if he hurt her, police said.

York Area Regional Police responded shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday to a sexual assault report at the Giant Food Stores at 275 Pauline Drive, according to court documents.

The woman went to use a bathroom at the rear of the store, and someone followed her inside about 25 minutes before police arrived, the documents state.

She told police she was alone in the bathroom when she heard someone enter and use the stall next to her.

As she was washing her hands, a man exited the stall next to her and said, "Oh I guess I'm in the wrong bathroom," according to the criminal complaint. 

She told the man "that it was no big deal," to which he replied, "You're pretty hot," according to court records.

The man's pants were down, and he was touching himself, the records state. He allegedly asked her to perform a sex act before trying to force himself on her.

The woman pushed him off and told him "my boyfriend is going to kill you," according to court documents. "The man then pulled his shorts up and ran from the bathroom."

Store security footage showed a man tripping and falling as he was running through the aisles from the rear of the store where the bathrooms are located, police said. The suspect fled the store on a bicycle.

"It's my understanding, she communicated to the suspect that she was accompanied by another man who was in the store, and if that man found out then the suspect would be in trouble — physically in trouble," York Area Regional Police Chief Tim Damon said Thursday morning.

Police received at least 10 tips identifying the man and carried out a search warrant about 11 a.m. the next day at Martz's residence, according to charging documents. 

Martz denied the allegations at first and told officers he didn't remember assaulting a woman in the restroom, police said. 

He later told investigators he saw the woman walking toward the bathroom and "thought she was pretty," according to charging documents.