DOWNEY – Local Downey resident Connie Tejada was recognized in Pasadena on Wednesday for her actions to help prevent a potential sexual assault. Tejada was one of five individuals to receive the Courageous Citizen award from the LA District Attorney’s Office.
The award is given four times a year to individuals who perform brave or selfless acts that aid in stopping of a crime or the prosecution of a criminal, even if at the risk of their own lives, said Ricardo Santiago, public relations officer to the DA and spokesperson to the office.
Names of potential award recipients are provided by the prosecutors who handle each case. Award winners are then decided upon after some deliberation.
On the morning of Sept. 12, 2013, Tejada was at an Alhambra coffee shop when Frank Hernandez, a 66-year-old registered sex offender who was on parole at the time, forced himself into the car of the 24-year-old female victim.
The victim, who knew Hernandez from church, was meeting Hernandez under the assumption that she was receiving a gift.
Hernandez took the victim’s cellphone and pistol whipped her with what seemed to be a handgun.
The attack was witnessed by Tejada as well as another woman, Jennifer Clark of Redondo Beach. Clark began to verbally confront Hernandez, who soon fled to his own car. Tejada pursued Hernandez to his own vehicle and was able to take pictures and provide a license plate number for police.
Both Clark and Tejada consoled the victim after the incident’s conclusion.
Deputy District Attorney David Ayvazian described Hernandez as “a sexually violent predator who had spent most of his adult life in prison for a series of bank robberies and rapes that he had committed in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and even the 90’s.”
Hernandez had been released in 2012 and was placed on an ankle monitor. However, Hernandez had cut off the device at some time prior to the coffee shop incident.
“Fortunately there were two good Samaritans by the name of Connie Tejada and Jennifer Clark,” said Ayvazian. “Essentially both these witnesses were able to stop this woman from being kidnapped and potentially raped.”
After conviction of the incident, Hernandez now faces the rest of his life in state prison.