A California woman has spoken out about the horrifying assault she suffered at the hands of a man she met on social media.
India Ali told KTLA that she met James Baker online and was immediately attracted to him.
"He didn't really look like a creep from his pictures, he looked like he had it going on or something," Ali said.
After corresponding with each other through Instagram and other social media sites, Ali and Baker made plans to meet in person in July 2016. A video uploaded to Baker's Instagram shows the two drinking at a bar, walking down the street and taking a cab back to the Westin hotel where Baker was staying.
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Ali told KTLA that she has no recollection of any of those events and that the first thing she can recall is waking up in Baker's hotel room in a puddle of her own vomit. She had been brutally assaulted and there was blood all over the place.
"It was horrible," Ali said. "I woke up, I lifted my head up and I was lying a puddle of throw up. So I look around and I see blood everywhere and my clothes everywhere."
She was shocked when she saw her reflection in the mirror.
"Oh my God, I can't believe that happened and what if they come back and kill me?" Ali recalled thinking at the time.
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Both her cell phone and car keys were gone. She used the hotel phone to call 911.
Paramedics arrived and rushed her to UCLA Medical Center. There doctors discovered that she had sustained severe head trauma. She had swelling on her brain, which had shifted on its axis.
"In essence, what had happened is she had been punched in the head so badly that it had caused a swelling in the brain," Deputy District Attorney David Berger told KTLA. "The brain when it expands has nowhere to go, so it forces down. And that's what triggers the vomit action, it pressures the fourth vertebrae."
Using Ali's Find My iPhone app, police were able to locate and arrest Baker. He had driven her car to another hotel just a few miles away from the scene of the crime. Surveillance video footage shows Baker leaving the Westin around 2 a.m. in Ali's car.
It turned out that Baker had a criminal record.
"He has prior convictions out of state," Berger said. "And he's also on bail for another offense involving using fake credit cards at the time that he was arrested for this offense."
Baker was convicted of assaulting Ali and is currently awaiting sentencing.
Ali hopes that her harrowing experience will serve as a cautionary tale for people who meet strangers online.
"I wouldn't want anyone to go and meet up with anybody that they don't know," she said. "Please don’t ever do that. You have to value your life."
Experts say that as online dating becomes more popular, it becomes easier for predators to find unsuspecting victims.
"Predators are using online dating websites to find victims," Kirsti Mouncey of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center told WEWS.
"You go out on a date and you're having a great time," she explained. "They're sweet, they're cute, they're telling you all the right things, how pretty you are, how nice you are, how much they like you. You go on a second date, your guard comes down, you really like them, you get in their car despite the fact you decided that's not what you're gonna do. That's where the sexual assault happens."
While there are no firm statistics demonstrating the connection between online dating and sexual assault, police say the number of cases are increasing.
"The most important investment you make in yourself is who you choose to share your life with," dating expert Tracy Sorboro said. "Don't make the mistake of meeting the wrong person."