It was just before Christmas in 2016 when Melissa Portala says her daughter had been subjected to inappropriate sexual conduct by a man at a Toledo Mall.
According to reports, a well-dressed man approached the teen and complimented her on the shoes she had been wearing and asked for the teen to show them to him. It was during this conversation that the teen says the man began caressing her feet and sucking her toes. Before leaving the store, the man kissed the 18-year-old on the cheek and told her that he would be back. The teen later reported what happened to her mother and both women went to the police.
The man was later identified as Joseph Jones. He was charged with gross sexual imposition. Jones posted bail and was back on the streets within hours of his arrest.
Portala was disgusted that the man who had subjected her daughter to the bizarre incident was back out to target other unsuspecting women and set out on a crusade. Portala personally passed out fliers and warned store managers in the area about Joseph Jones and his strange fetish, believing that her daughter wasn’t his only victim.
Initially, this plan to draw attention to Jones’ perversions and to locate other victims had backfired, and Portala found herself being placed under arrest. Portala was released on a $10 bond, according to a Facebook post she made about the incident, but even the minor trespassing charge did not stop the concerned mom and eventually other victims would come forward.
Portala told WTOL, “Other women [were] pouring their hearts out to me on Facebook and in private messages with horrific stories, and I knew this man was escalating his horrific behaviors, and if I remained silent, I would be contributing to this horrific behavior, and I cannot stay silent,”
The prosecutor in this case says that on the surface Jones’ actions may seem comical, but he finds this pattern of behavior to be incredibly concerning. Jones has since been banned from several locations, including the Toledo mall where he originally encountered Portala’s daughter. Other victims in the case have filed protection orders against him.
Jones told the court that he believes he has been unfairly targeted. “I’m actually a good person. I am a business owner and I do feel I may be targeted for some of the things I do. One of my businesses is I do speak on feminism,” said Jones.
Strangely enough, Jones isn’t the first person to be charged for unwanted contact involving women’s feet.
In 2014, Michael Brown of North Carolina had been accused of massaging and sucking women’s toes in a Walmart. Brown was sentenced to serve 60-days in jail after posing as a podiatry student in the shoe section and convincing at least one women to allow him to assist her in choosing a pair of shoes. Rather than the assisting the woman, Brown grabbed the woman’s foot and began licking and sucking her toes.
It is unclear what ultimately drove either man to this behavior and some fear that it may be a precursor to increasingly more violent sexual crimes.