The girl told police that the man pulled her pants down and touched her inappropriately at the Macon Manor Apartments around 7 p.m. Thursday.
According to the victim's eight-year-old niece, the girls had been playing in the courtyard when Jacobo Mendoza called the three-year-old over to him.
The victim walked a few steps towards the man, and that's when he allegedly grabbed her by the hand and pulled her across the parking lot to a wooded area along the edge of the property.
The little girl screamed, and the victim's niece ran to tell the victim's mother, Elsa Velasquez, what had happened.
Velasquez ran towards the parking lot and found the man hidden in some bushes behind two cars.
"When I saw the man I was scared because sometimes they have something like a gun," Velasquez said.
But for the protection of her daughter, Velasquez pulled Mendoza away by his hair and he ran off, leaving Velasquez's daughter with her pants around her ankles.
WREG has learned Mendoza is a Guatemalan citizen.
It's unclear where he lives in Memphis, but people at the Macon Manor Apartments say they've seen him around.
“He always seemed like he was a friendly guy," said Marvin Diggs.
“It’s very, very, very bad. We never see this in life, all my life," said Abdullah Assakaf.
Velasquez said it took her a while to track Mendoza down after he took off. But after asking around, she found him nearby.
Police said he was too drunk to give them a statement.
Velasquez said she hesitated to report the crime due to the community's fear of being deported.
But Velasquez says she was was violated at age seven, and felt that reporting it was the right thing to do.
"I couldn't not denounce him because if he couldn't do it to my girl, he could have done it to another or already done it," Velasquez said.
He was charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual battery.