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Social worker escapes attacker during Northland home visit

Kansas City police arrested a 20-year-old man after he allegedly attacked a Synergy case worker who was making a home visit Wednesday.

William I. Bowens of Kansas City faces one count of attempted forcible sodomy, the Clay County prosecutor’s office said. Bond was set at $100,000.

Police reports gave this account of the 2:10 p.m. attack in an apartment in the 2000 block of Northeast Russell Road:

The 30-year-old worker said she went into the apartment, which serves as transitional housing for homeless youths, and sat down on the couch. The man then started choking her from behind. The woman struggled to free herself, but the man came around to the front of the couch and continued to choke her until she fell to the floor. He told her he was going to kill her, according to police reports, which said the 250-pound man climbed on top of the 110-pound worker and applied his body weight against her chest and neck while choking her with both hands.

He told her to “be cooperative” and she agreed. He then let her stand up but kept his arm around her throat and marched her to his bedroom.

The worker saw a knife on the bed, grabbed it and tried to talk to the man. He claimed he wanted to die then, told her to perform a sex act and said he would let her leave.

When he walked into his bathroom, the worker ran out of the apartment with the knife. She suffered soreness to her face, chest and neck but no serious injuries, police said.

Robin Winner, the executive director of Synergy Services, said they were working on strategies “to see this doesn’t happen again in the future.”

Teri Zenner, a Johnson County social worker, was killed in 2004 while visiting a client at his home. Her widower helped push Kansas to require safety training for all new social workers, and her employer, the Johnson County Mental Health Center, adopted several strategies to improve worker safety.

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