Jury convicts man, 26, of rape in Pikesville office


Deliberating less than two hours, a Baltimore County jury convicted a 26-year-old East Baltimore man of rape yesterday in an attack on an attorney in her Pikesville office Oct. 4.

The defendant, Arthur Christian Rogers of the 1600 block of N. Milton Ave., still will be tried on charges of raping a Towson lawyer 10 days later.

After the second victim identified a suspect from a photographic lineup, Rogers' picture was broadcast on television and he surrendered to the police Oct. 23.

The attacks prompted increased security at office buildings in Towson and Pikesville, where guards warned women against working alone after hours. Reports circulated of a man wandering the hallways of various high-rise buildings, asking for people and businesses not there.

That's what happened in the Pikesville case, according to one witness -- attorney Mark Wittstadt -- who identified Rogers in a lineup and again in court as the man who had wandered into his office across the street from the victim's about 6 o'clock that night.

Soon afterward, the 38-year-old victim said, Rogers entered her office asking for a nonexistent person, Assistant State's Attorney John P. Cox told the jury. After a brief conversation, Rogers suddenly began to drink from the woman's can of soda -- prompting her to reach for the telephone to call the police.

According to testimony, Rogers grabbed her by the neck and pulled her down the hallway as he checked office doors, looking for a place to rape her. Because Rogers held her neck so forcefully that it left bruises and a cut from her glasses, Mr. Cox asked the jury for a first-degree rape verdict.

The prosecution also used DNA evidence from the victim and from Rogers.

Assistant Public Defender Gerald W. Vahle criticized the presentation of the DNA evidence, and emphasized that a fingerprint found on the soda can didn't match Rogers' or the victim's.

He also noted Rogers' sturdy athletic build, in contrast to Mr. Wittstadt's description of the suspect as slim. And in the lineup, the defense attorney said, Rogers stood out because he was serious, while others were laughing. Rogers did not testify.

The jury convicted him of first-degree rape, which carries possible life sentence, and a third-degree sex offense. Circuit Judge J. William Hinkel set sentencing for May 9.

Rogers has three prior convictions including assault with intent to rape, said Assistant State's Attorney Susan H. Hazlett.

The victim was not in court, but Ms. Hazlett said she reported the verdict to the woman, who confronted her assailant in court Tuesday -- then slept through the night for the first time since the attack.

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