Probable Cause Found in Sex Abuse Case

A DC Superior Court judge ruled that a sex offense case has enough evidence to go to trial. 

The defendant is charged with assault with intent to commit first-degree sexual abuse.

According to court documents, the victim said she was walking to a gas station on the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital campus on July 11 when the assault happened.

The defendant allegedly exposed himself to the victim and continued to follow her after she told him to leave her alone. The defendant allegedly grabbed the victim’s hair, knocked her to the ground and began to remove her clothes. A witness called the police.   

During the Sept. 22 preliminary hearing, a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) detective testified that another MPD officer showed the victim a photo array of suspects. The victim was able to positively identify the defendant with 100 percent confidence. 

Defense attorney Prescott Loveland questioned the accuracy of the evidence, citing a nine-minute discrepancy between the video surveillance and the 911 call and inconsistencies with the victim’s story. He also argued the description provided by the witness and victim matched several other males in the area, citing audio from an MPD Body Worn Camera (BWC.) 

Judge Todd Edelman’ said his reasoning for the probable cause ruling is based on the court report displaying all elements of sexual assault and the confident identification of the defendant by the victim. He disagreed with Loveland’s argument that inconsistency with the victim’s story does not constitute probable cause. 

“Inconsistencies [are to] be expected given the traumatic nature of this case,” said Judge Edelman. 

The prosecution submitted several documents into evidence, including a composite of video surveillance and audio of the 911 recording. These documents also contributed to s decision to find probable cause. 

The prosecutor argues that the defendant should remain held in DC Jail. The prosecution found a pattern of escalating series of conduct when reviewing the defendant’s prior offenses. This included the defendant being kicked out of a shelter, an assault with a dangerous weapon charge, three bench warrants and two accounts of simple assault. 

However, Loveland pointed out that most of his client’s priors were misdemeanors. He also said his client has a strong support system of family and employment connections in the community to warrant high-intensity probation. Loveland also noted that due to COVID-19, trials are on hold.

While Judge Edelman did acknowledge Loveland’s point regarding how COVID-19 has affected trials, he agreed with the prosecution’s argument on the defendant’s pattern of increasingly violent acts. He also noted the defendant’s support system has not prevented the recent criminal acts.  

The defendant’s next hearing, a felony status conference, is scheduled for Nov. 23.