Judge Finds Probable Cause in Sex Abuse Case Following Detective’s Testimony

DC Superior Court Judge Michael O’Keefe found there was probable cause to believe a sexual assault defendant’s guilt, and to continue towards a trial during an Oct. 25 preliminary hearing.

The 38-year-old defendant was charged on Aug. 13 with first-degree sexual assault in connection with an Aug. 4 incident on the 100 block of Elmira Street, SE.

The lead detective on the case recounted his interview with the complainant.

The complainant, 47, flagged down a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer in the morning on Aug. 4, he said. The officer paged the detective.

When he and his partner arrived at the scene, the detective said the complainant reported being beaten and sexually assaulted the previous night by her “on-again, off-again boyfriend,” the detective said.

According to the detective, the complainant said she went over to his place late in the night, and they got into an argument over another woman. When the defendant asked to have sex, the complainant said no, and he began to allegedly beat her. He allegedly repeatedly beat her with a wooden clothes hanger, which broke, and started to “slightly penetrating” her, the detective said. He kept her there for some time before allowing her to leave, without her phone, in the morning.

In her interview with the detective, the victim said she knew the defendant had a gun stashed in a bag in the room but clarified that he never used it or threatened to use it that night.

At the Tuesday hearing, the prosecutor offered a plea for one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, along with reducing the sexual abuse count to a misdemeanor. Under the plea, if the defendant pleaded guilty he would not be required to register as a sex offender.

“I’m not going to confess to something I didn’t do,” the defendant said as he rejected the plea deal referencing the dangerous weapon.

The prosecutor produced several photographs of the complainant showing the extent of her injuries from the beating, as well as a photo of the broken hanger.

The detective also testified to previous instances in which the defendant reportedly beat the victim, though no charges were ever filed.

Defense attorney Carrie Weletz said there were “lots of reasons to question [the victim’s] credibility,” and to not find probable cause. 

Weletz noted the victim said, “I’m sure everybody heard that, it was so loud.” But the police did not interview any neighbors who said they heard any noise that night.

The prosecutor said it was not that neighbors told police they heard nothing, rather that police did not ask any neighbors about it.

“The detective not following up on something said does not go against her credibility,” the prosecutor said. “If anything, it goes against the MPD.”

Weletz also said that while the victim was in the hospital being treated for her injuries, she texted the defendant. At first, she referred to herself in first person, but at one point, she switched to the third person—referring to herself as “she” as if impersonating someone else who knew of the incident.

Weletz argued that by texting as if she was someone else, the victim was setting the defendant up, making it look like he had taken her phone again.

In Judge O’Keefe’s finding of probable cause, he noted several reasons to believe in the victim’s credibility, like her statement that a gun was present but not used.

The judge referred to the prosecutor’s argument that f she was lying, she could have said the gun was used in the sexual assault and gotten the defendant in even more trouble.

Judge O’Keefe heard from both parties, as well as a victim representative from the Network for Victim Recovery, who requested the defendant be held at the DC Jail for the safety of the victim.

Judge O’Keefe declined to hold the defendant, releasing him under the High Intensity Supervision Program (HISP).

The next hearing in this case is scheduled for Dec. 16.

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