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Mental Tests For Store Sex Suspect

wAllen Dwayne Coates, 37, of Irvington, Ky., is led into a hearing, Thursday, July 17, 2003, in Jefferson County District Court in Louisville, Ky. A judge ordered a competency evaluation Thursday for Coates, who is accused of posing as a security guard to assault a girl at a West Virginia Target store and attempting to assault another at a Kentucky Wal-Mart. (AP Photo/Charleston Daily Mail, Tom Hindman)
A judge Thursday ordered a mental examination for a man accused of assaulting an 11-year-old girl at a West Virginia store.

Allen Dwayne Coates, 37, of Irvington, Ky., was arrested Wednesday afternoon after authorities received a tip that he was the man seen on a Target store surveillance tape. Both his attorney and his family said he had a history of mental problems.

At a hearing Thursday, Jefferson County District Judge William Ryan allowed six weeks for Coates' evaluation, delaying his return to West Virginia to face charges there. Coates is also accused of attempting to assault a girl in Kentucky.

"He cannot assist in his own defense right now," lawyer Fred Radolovich told the judge. "We'll have him examined and then proceed with the accusations."

Coates had been arrested without incident in a parking lot outside Radolovich's office. The lawyer said he "was talking crazy stuff, like hurting himself and things and having some memory problems."

"We're glad to have been able to make an arrest," Ashland police Capt. Don Petrella told CBS Radio News. "He was a danger to children and he needed to be taken off the streets."

Coates' father, Bobby Coates, who had taken his son to see Radolovich, said his son had a history of mental problems, including depression and had been on medication but "slacked off of it."

South Charleston, W.Va., Police Chief David Dunlap credited the capture to a grainy surveillance video from the department store.

The tipster, Dunlap said, "saw the individual on the news."

The girl was assaulted Saturday evening at the South Charleston store after she and her mother separated to shop individually. The tape showed a man stalking a young girl and then walking quickly down an aisle in another department, leading the girl by her wrist.

Police said the man, posing as a security guard, told the girl he saw her steal something, pulled a knife and forced her to the store's garden department, where he assaulted her. When too many shoppers walked into that section, he allegedly assaulted her a second time in another location.

Coates also faces charges stemming from a similar incident Friday at a Wal-Mart in Ashland, Ky., police there said in a statement.

In that incident, a 9-year-old girl who had wandered away from her mother was approached by a man who identified himself as a security guard. The man patted the girl down, and she became suspicious and ran to her mother. Police charged Coates with first-degree attempted sodomy in that case.

The family of the West Virginia girl issued a statement Thursday morning, calling her a hero.

"It was amazing to watch her keep her composure as she had to recall the details of that horrible evening several times for the authorities and the hospital," the statement said. "Then, having to watch it daily on the national news, knowing that this exposure would eventually bring the predator to justice. She is truly our hero."

Coates' father said he would do everything he could to get medical help for his son.

"He wouldn't have done something that he's accused of doing if he'd been in his right mental state," Bobby Coates said.