East Germantown residents seek to rebuild community after alleged serial rapist’s arrest

 Anthony Murphy, executive director of the city's Town Watch Integrated Services, speaks with East Germantown residents in the wake of an alleged serial rapist's arrest. (Matthew Grady/for NewsWorks)

Anthony Murphy, executive director of the city's Town Watch Integrated Services, speaks with East Germantown residents in the wake of an alleged serial rapist's arrest. (Matthew Grady/for NewsWorks)

With the prime suspect in custody, residents and neighborhood leaders gathered in East Germantown on Wednesday night to address a series of rapes that targeted young women ranging in age from 12 to 17.

As reported by NewsWorks, police announced earlier this month that they were seeking a man believed to be responsible for four gunpoint rapes in Germantown within the past three months.

The fourth assault occurred on June 2. A day later, police sought the public’s help as a pattern had been established.

On June 5, having fielded tips from the community, police arrested 22-year-old Antuane Brown of the 1100 block of Price St. and charged him in connection with the case.

Community discussion

Steps away from where the final assault took place, community leaders and residents held a frank discussion at the Lonnie Young Recreation Center about options to prevent future occurrences.

Lamenting a light turnout from the general public, officials suggested that something was “broken” in the community, hoping that neighbors would rally together in light of the assaults.

“We need more support for our purpose, which was unfortunately spearheaded by this incident,” said Anthony Murphy, executive director of the city’s Town Watch Integrated Services (TWIS). “Somewhere along the line, we’ve got to get back to a one-to-one community.”

Stacey Wright, chief-of-staff for State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, urged residents to be proactive, “not reactive,” and work with elected officials, police and community organizations. He also recognized the importance of the individual.

“Often, if it’s not effective individually, people just shrug their shoulders,” said Wright.

Reginald Hall, community specialist for TWIS, emphasized the importance of awareness, both in terms of community affairs and street sense.

“You don’t know who is out there,” Hall observed. “Last time I checked, to be aware is to be alive.”

Locals ask about response, safety

Residents had specific questions regarding official responses to both the assaults and to incidents at city-owned recreation areas.

Asked by residents about law-enforcement plans, Sgt. Joe Chiodo of the 14th Police District said that typical PPD procedure is to reassign additional non-patrol personnel to the streets to bolster presence at pools and playgrounds.

Queried by residents about surveillance, Ray Jones of Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass’ office replied with details about a citywide program designed to curb loitering unveiled just that day.

On Wednesday, Bass announced implementation of a $3.6 million program to install cameras in recreation centers and playgrounds across the city.

With official plans in place, organizers of Wednesday’s event plan to have an additional public meeting in regard to the assaults and community engagement.

No details of the meeting were immediately available, but it was clear that despite the issue will be addressed in the future.

“We’re going to revisit this,” said Hall.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.