Man who attempted to abduct a teenaged girl at Willow Grove Park Mall has been convicted

Khalilh Evans, 44, of Philadelphia is facing jail time for false imprisonment and harassment charges for attempting to abduct a teenaged girl at the Willow Grove Park Mall. According to NBC10, he was found guilty on all counts.

According to police, Evans is now facing 27 to 33 months in jail, though state sentencing guidelines could allow for a lesser sentence, according to the Pottstown Mercury. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

An investigation began after Abington police released the details of an attempted child abduction at approximately 7:00pm on Wednesday, July 12, 2023 at the mall’s first level escalator. Evans surrendered to authorities the following day.

The 14-year-old victim told Evans she was underage and tried to step away from him, according to police. After her refusal, the suspect grabbed her arm and restrained her “as he led her across the mall.”

Police said the girl escaped Evans’ grasp, screamed and ran away. The attack was caught on video. CBS News’ video coverage from July 13 is below:

Evans did not testify during the trial, but told a reporter, “You all convicted an innocent man,” according to the Mercury.

The incident sparked controversy after Abington Chief of Police Patrick Molloy noted during a July 13 press conference that Evans had a “28-page rap sheet” coming into the investigation, including “numerous weapons offenses, possession of firearms, aggravated assault, terroristic threats.” Molloy described him “as an individual who should not have been on the street.”

Chief Molloy expressed frustration during the press conference.

“Dangerous felons are let back onto the street to prey upon our citizens. This shouldn’t have happened. He should’ve been detained, he should’ve been in jail. This here is a disgrace. We need to do a better job. The system failed,” Molloy said.

Chief Molloy’s remarks were discussed in a July 17 article by The Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Abington police chief blamed Philly for a crime. It’s the second time this month a neighboring community has done so.”

From the article:

Abington Police Chief Patrick Molloy laced into the city on Thursday, specifically targeting Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, after an Oak Lane man was charged with allegedly attempting to abduct at 14-year-old girl at the Willow Grove Park Mall the day before.

Molloy’s comments marked the latest examples of public officials in places outside of Philadelphia blaming the city for its approach to crime.

Philly Mayor Jim Kenney told The Inquirer that Chief Molloy’s comments are an “oversimplification” of a complex issue and hinder the region’s ability to address crime. He said:

I think it’s telling when anyone describes a complex and enormous issue like crime or violence as belonging to any one city. That level of oversimplification is not encouraging. Our region and our entire country are grappling with a crisis of violence and needed criminal justice reforms, and we’re only going to succeed if we’re willing to work together on a shared vision of public safety across all communities.

Chief Molloy responded to the criticism during an interview with Kayal & Company on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT on the morning of Tuesday, July 18.

“We should all be in this together. If you were to look at this individual that we had in custody, and the fact that he was going after a 14-year-old girl and multiple attempts before this. This individual from 2018-2021 had possession of an illegal firearm… So the system is broken in the city. There’s a lack of qualified prosecutors, and when they’re focused on equity over public safety, it’s created a problem for many suburban chiefs. I could get many chiefs to show you the stats,” he said.

I didn’t like the lecturing that I received in The Inquirer saying they’re disappointed that Chief Molloy didn’t see the complexity in this… We’re tough on crime and we’re committed to community policing. I sort of resent the fact that that they didn’t listen to my whole quote,” he said.

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Photo: Abington Township Police Department