February 24, 2017 at 11:23 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Judge finds probable cause in male-on-male sex assault cases

shooting deaths, gay news, Washington Blade, sexual assaultA D.C. Superior Court judge on Wednesday found probable cause that a 33-year-old Hyattsville, Md., man sexually assaulted two men inside their Capitol Hill homes within two blocks of each other in separate incidents on Aug. 28 and Oct. 1 of last year.

Judge Jose M. Lopez announced his ruling after D.C. police Detective Douglas Carlson testified that defendant Bryant Webster entered the homes of the two victims without permission and forced them at gunpoint to remove their clothes, bound their arms and legs with duct tape, and anally penetrated them on the bed in their respective bedrooms.

A D.C. police arrest affidavit says police arrested Webster inside the home of the second victim on Oct. 1 after the victim was able to break free from the tape binding his hands and grabbed the handgun after Webster placed it on the bed while sexually assaulting the victim.

While the victim and Webster struggled for the gun in the bedroom, one of the victim’s roommates entered the house and rushed into the bedroom after hearing the victim’s calls for help, the affidavit says. The victim called 911 for help while the roommate restrained Webster until police arrived, according to the affidavit.

Both victims have said they believe the door to their respective homes through which Webster entered was unlocked at the time of the incident, police said. Police also said there were no signs of a forced entry at the two homes, one the 1300 block of Independence Avenue, S.E. and the other on the 1200 block of Massachusetts Avenue, S.E.

Police charged Webster with two counts of first-degree sexual assault while armed, two counts of first-degree burglary while armed, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and with carrying a pistol without a license.

Lopez said his finding of probable cause means there is sufficient evidence to bring the case before a grand jury, which would decide whether to hand down an indictment to bring the case to trial. He scheduled a status hearing for April 27.

The judge denied a request by defense attorney David Benowitz that Webster be released from jail while awaiting trial. Lopez said he agreed with arguments made by the lead prosecutor in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kene Okacha, that Webster’s use of a gun to commit a crime of violence against each of the two victims shows he would be a danger to the community if released.

Det. Carlson, who was the only witness to testify at Wednesday’s preliminary hearing, told the court that investigators found bank checks in a backpack in Webster’s possession at the time of his arrest that did not belong to either of the victims in Aug. 28 and Oct. 1 incidents. Prosecutor Okacha, in arguing against allowing Webster to be released, said the discovery of the checks suggests that Webster may have targeted another victim.

At the time of Webster’s arrest in October, Acting D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said police would like to know if there are other male victims of Webster. He urged anyone who may have been such a victim to come forward and report the offense to police.

Neither Newsham nor the arrest affidavit disclosed the sexual orientation of Webster or the two victims, whose identities have not been disclosed.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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