A homeless woman in a wheelchair who accepted an acquaintance's offer for a place to sleep told police she was repeatedly raped by the man, who warned her, "I can rape you and get away with it ... You're homeless — no one cares about you," according to a police report.
A homeless woman in a wheelchair who accepted an acquaintance’s offer for a place to sleep told police she was repeatedly raped by the man, who warned her, “I can rape you and get away with it … You’re homeless — no one cares about you,” according to a police report.
The 40-year-old man was arrested Monday and is being held in King County Jail on investigation of rape.
According to Seattle police, the woman claims she left the man’s apartment at one point, but he found her at one of her usual panhandling spots in Seattle’s Pioneer Square and took her back to his West Seattle apartment on a bus. The woman told police that she asked the Metro Transit bus driver for help, but he refused.
A spokeswoman for Metro said the transit agency is looking into the woman’s claim.
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According to police, the homeless woman said the alleged assailant was an old acquaintance from the days when both lived on the street. She said she ran into him on Friday night at Third Avenue and Pine Street.
They chatted for a while and the man told the woman he was off the street, had an apartment and that she could spend the night. According to the woman’s statement to police, she offered to buy food for them both with her panhandling money and he reassured her that she “would be safe with him because he’s a Christian.”
Once they got to the man’s West Seattle home, the woman told police they talked for a while and then she said she was tired and ready to go to sleep. The suspect helped the woman get out of her wheelchair and onto the floor, where she intended to sleep, according to the police report.
The man then forced himself on her numerous times throughout the night, she told police, though she repeatedly told him no.
The suspect allegedly told the woman that sex was the price of having a roof over her head, according to a police report.
The woman told police that she left the man’s apartment on Saturday and made her way back downtown. On Sunday evening, according to police, the suspect found her in Pioneer Square and “took control of her wheelchair.”
The woman told police that the suspect then boarded them both onto a No. 194 Metro bus bound for West Seattle. The woman claims she told the male Metro driver that “she wasn’t with this man and that she needed him to call for help,” but the suspect told the driver they were engaged and she “was just mad at him,” police said.
According to the police report, the Metro driver is alleged to have told the woman, “You’re with him now — deal with it.”
The man took the woman to his apartment that night, where she was “fondled” but not raped, the report said.
On Monday, the woman was able to leave the man’s apartment and go to a nearby drugstore, where she called 911, police said.
She was taken to Harborview Medical Center for a sexual-assault exam and was met there by detectives, according to police.
Police said they went to the suspect’s apartment and discovered through surveillance video that the suspect had slipped out a side door. A detailed description of the man and his clothing was dispatched to Metro drivers because the man frequently rides buses, according to police.
At 1:35 p.m. Monday, another Metro driver alerted police that a man matching the suspect’s description had boarded her bus. The driver pulled over and waited for police to arrive, according to the police report, and the man was arrested without incident.
Metro spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershok said Metro drivers are trained to call for assistance if they think a passenger is in danger. However, she said, the agency is not yet clear on the facts of this case.
She said, for example, bus route No. 194 goes to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and not West Seattle, as the woman claimed.
Ogershok said Metro Transit Police will be contacting Seattle police for more information.
Seattle Police Department spokesman Mark Jamieson said sexual-assault unit detectives are investigating the alleged rape. Jamieson said he did not know whether police would be looking into the allegation that the male Metro driver ignored the victim’s request for help.
Two years ago, a King County Superior Court jury awarded $250,000 to a man and a woman who were assaulted on a Metro bus by a group of 30 young people and then dragged out of the bus’s back door and beaten in the street. The lawsuit claimed that King County was negligent and partly to blame for the 2005 beatings because the Metro bus driver did not call dispatch for backup or advice.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org