Residents alarmed over rape investigation

The Baltimore Sun

Police swarmed the Crofton neighborhood, knocking on doors and questioning residents, but there was one thing they didn't mention: Earlier that day a little girl had been lured away from a playground and raped.

The reason, police say, is that if the suspect had known police were investigating the attack, he might have destroyed evidence or fled.

"The reason we did this was not to be secretive," said Sgt. Sara Schriver, who supervised the case. "The reason we did this was to protect the integrity of the investigation."

But some residents say that the police should have immediately informed them that a sexual assault had occurred.

"Why not tell the truth right away?" said Andre Gariepy, who heads the Greater Crofton Council's safety committee. "If parents know there's a rapist on the loose, they're going to keep their kids close to home."

The incident occurred about 5:30 p.m. Friday when a 7-year-old was left alone at a playground behind a row of townhouses. The girl told police that a man asked her to help him in his house, then pulled her into a bedroom and sexually assaulted her, Schriver said.

The girl escaped and ran to the home of her baby sitter, who called police. Officers immediately "saturated" the area, Schriver said.

The girl initially identified the wrong house as the site of the attack, and police had to speak with residents to determine the right house and a suspect, Schriver said. Once police had identified a suspect, they staked out his house. When he returned home shortly before midnight, he was taken in for questioning and confessed, Schriver said.

David B. Raszewski, 17, of the 1700 block of Granite Court was charged as an adult with second-degree rape and sexual assault and related crimes.

Schriver's office prepared a news release Saturday morning, but the public information office did not send it out until Monday because it was not a "safety issue," said police spokesman Justin Mulcahy. "An arrest had been made," he said.

But neighbors said that they would have liked to have the information to make that decision for themselves. "Once they knew there had been a problem, they should have told everyone immediately," said neighbor Lisa Hecker, who has an 11-year-old daughter.

Others praised the police for quickly making an arrest and said they did not fault them for not releasing the information sooner.

"I think they did everything they could to play by the rules," said Anne Gentry, who has a 15-year-old.

The mother of the girl, who asked not to be identified, praised the police, but said if she were a neighbor she would have wanted to know about the incident sooner.

"I think the detectives did an excellent job in finding him so quickly," she said. "I realized they didn't want the case to be messed up, but I understand why the neighbors wanted to hear about it more quickly."

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