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Officer Accused of Rape

April 16, 2002
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Officer Accused of Rape

Woman Says She Was Seeking Shelter for Herself, Children

by Ruben Castaneda And Jamie Stockwell, Washington Post

Prince George's County police are investigating allegations that a county police corporal raped a Hyattsville woman who had asked him to help her find overnight shelter for herself and her children.

The woman, 25, said in an interview yesterday that the assault occurred early March 31 after she sought help from the officer, who was moonlighting at a Langley Park restaurant where she used to work. She said she was looking for a shelter after a fight with her husband.

Instead of helping her find a shelter, the woman said, the officer led her to his house. She said the officer took her to the basement and raped her after threatening to kill her children if she did not cooperate. At the time, the woman said, her children were upstairs.

Officials confirmed that they are investigating the woman's allegations. The woman first discussed the incident publicly in an interview yesterday on WACA (1540 AM), a Spanish-language radio station in Wheaton. She was not identified during the interview.

The Washington Post does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault without their consent.

The woman said she wrote down the tag number of the officer's cruiser and used a cell phone to call 911 after she was able to leave the house; a source familiar with the investigation confirmed the woman's emergency call. She said she was first interviewed by police and examined at a hospital on the day of the alleged assault.

Acting Prince George's Police Chief Gerald M. Wilson said yesterday that the department is taking the woman's allegations seriously. The officer has not been suspended and retains full police powers, Wilson said.

"We know who the officer is. We know the incident occurred at his home. We know they met at the place he was working part time," Wilson said.

Wilson also said: "The issue has become extremely cloudy. We haven't closed the book on it. Right now, it doesn't appear that the officer did anything wrong based on what we've been told."

Prince George's State's Attorney Jack B. Johnson said yesterday that if police do not charge the officer, he will conduct a grand jury investigation.

"I want to make it clear I will not rely on their decision as to whether this woman is reliable," Johnson said. "This is a very, very serious allegation."

On April 2, Wilson told a reporter that the woman had recanted allegations that she was raped and said that she and the officer had consensual sex.

The woman yesterday denied doing either. "I've always said I didn't want to do it," she said.

"I said no, no, no the whole time. I didn't fight because I was threatened, I knew that if I didn't give in, the lives of my children would be at stake," the woman said.

The woman, who speaks little English, said Prince George's police have interviewed her three times, mostly recently Friday with the help of a Montgomery County officer. Montgomery police said the officer is a certified Spanish-language translator who provided assistance at the request of Prince George's police.

In an interview with The Washington Post, the woman said the events that led to the alleged attack began when she argued with her husband over whether he spent too much time playing billiards with friends.

The woman said she gathered her three children, put them in her van and drove away without a place to go. She said she stopped at the restaurant. In the parking lot there, the woman said, she told the officer she needed to find a women's shelter. The officer told her to wait there while he dropped off a woman who was in his cruiser, then returned and told her to follow him, she said.

The woman said she followed the officer to a house in Bowie, where there was another man, who she said works as a security guard at the restaurant. The officer showed her a bedroom on the second floor where he said her children could stay, the woman said.

Then the officer asked if she wanted to see a shark in a fish tank in the basement. After he showed her the shark, the officer aimed a gun at her head and told her that she had to do what he wanted or he would kill her kids, the woman said.

The officer then forced her to a couch, took off her clothes and raped her, she said. The officer allegedly said his housemate wanted to have sex with her. When he went upstairs, the woman said she put on her clothes, went upstairs crying, gathered her children and left.

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