The prime suspect in a series of East Germantown gunpoint rapes has been held for trial on more than a dozen charges.
On Tuesday, Judge James Murray Lynn ruled that Antuane Brown, 23, of the 1100 block of E. Price St., will be tried on charges including rape, kidnapping, indecent exposure, simple assault and firearms offenses in connection to three assaults that took place this spring.
Brown remains in custody without bail.
Reached via phone on Wednesday, Catherine Berryman, who represents Brown, said her client is contesting all charges against him and “absolutely asserts his innocence.”
The alleged assaults
According to police records, the first attack involved a 12-year-old girl who was assaulted at 7:30 a.m. March 19. The victim, who was waiting for a school bus near Anderson and Price streets, was led at gunpoint into a nearby alley.
On April 23, a 17-year-old victim was walking alone on the 900 block of E. Chelten Ave at 11:30 p.m. when she was approached by a male who produced a gun and forced her into a nearby commercial property where the assault took place. Police also reviewed surveillance footage in which the suspect is seen riding a dark-colored mountain bike.
Several weeks later, a 17-year-old victim walking on the 1100 block of E. Chelten Avenue was approached by an unknown male believed to be the suspect. She was initially directed to a vehicle at gunpoint, but was instead pushed toward the entrance of the Lonnie Young Recreation Center. While not in the building itself, the victim was allegedly assaulted on the property of the recreation center.
At a Special Victims Unit press conference the next day, June 3, police were reluctant to speculate the suspect’s residence, but indicated that the suspect showed a familiarity with the area.
Two days later, Brown was in police custody.
Young victim testifies
At Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, Brown stood before Judge Lynn wearing black Chuck Taylor sneakers, black jeans and a black short-sleeved polo shirt.
With the defendant were a half-dozen family members, spilling out over two rows of seats.
The 12-year-old victim — she wore colorful printed pants, a grey hoodie and purple flip flops — began her testimony quietly. When she started crying, her hands hid tears as she tucked her head into her chest.
Subsequently, Judge Lynn ordered all non-essential personnel from the courtroom. Regaining her composure, the victim began to testify, recounting the facts quietly with subtle prodding from prosecutors.
Then, the 17-year-old victim from the April incident testified that Brown held a gun to her back while he lead her to an alley behind a mechanic’s shop to assault her.
During cross examination, the victim said that she “tried to say everything to get him away,” but that her assailant replied, “If you don’t stop, I’m going to lay you on the ground.”
The third victim, a 17-year-old allegedly assaulted outside a rec center, said that she was walking home from her boyfriend’s house when she was intercepted by her assailant.
At gunpoint, she was told to move to the suspect’s car, said to be on the other side of the recreation center’s grass field. While on the field, Brown allegedly asked for various sex acts from the victim, who was told she would be shot if she screamed.
Upcoming hearing on fourth case
Brown awaits a preliminary hearing with the regard to a fourth set of charges.
On May 19 at 10:40 p.m. a 15-year-old female victim was walking home from a friend’s house on the 6000 block of Wister St. when she observed a man believed to be the suspect riding a bike.
While walking past an alley, a suspect allegedly approached her, brandished a gun and told her not to look at him, according to police reports. He then forced her into the alley where he sexually assaulted her, police said.
When surveillance footage was publicly released, police maintained that the suspect’s intent was “clearly” visible.
Since witnesses were unavailable to testify Tuesday, an additional preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 15 at Family Court.
Brown will have his formal arraignment on the current charges on Aug. 13 at the Criminal Justice Center.