Metro officials waited to announce 2 cases of rape

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 2, 2010

There have been four rapes on Metro property this year, up from one last year, but unlike assaults reported elsewhere in the Washington area, at least two of the crimes were not immediately made public.

Metro officials gave differing accounts of why the public was not informed about the crimes. Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato said on Tuesday that the police deliberately withheld information on two assaults that occurred in the parking garage of Largo Town Center in February as they searched for suspects. However, Peter Benjamin, chairman of Metro's board of directors, said information on the attacks "got lost in the shuffle" during the February snowstorms.

"I think there was an intent" to inform the public, he said.

Metro's long-standing policy is that information is released only on a "case-by-case basis," Asato said.

"Police were following up with leads and did not want to compromise the investigation by notifying media," she said.

In contrast, D.C. police release daily reports on Web sites and in news feeds to inform the public of several categories of serious crimes, including homicide, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and sexual abuse, which includes rape, according to Anne Grant, who works in the crime data quality unit.

The suspect, Jonathan David Duffy, was charged with approaching a woman when she returned to her gold Honda Accord in the Largo Town Center Station garage on Feb. 5, threatening her with a gun, taking her vehicle and raping her, according to Metro.

Metro Transit Police detectives investigating the crime returned to the scene on Feb. 11, spotted the stolen car and arrested Duffy when he returned to the vehicle, according to court documents. Duffy was found with a missing 13-year-old girl and was also charged with kidnapping and raping her, according to court documents.

"It's unfortunate that a second series of crimes occurred, but the detectives were doing their job," Asato said

Riders at Largo Town Center Station on Thursday voiced concern that they were not alerted to the rapes and said they worry that the parking garage is unsafe.

"They should at least make people aware so they could have someone walk them to their car," Linda White-Ballou said as she rode a Blue Line train from Largo to downtown Washington. She said that when she used to work late downtown, the garage made her nervous. "You'd come in and nobody was around," she said. "Walking down the stairwell was not a good thing."

Another rider agreed. "Of course that's information we should have," said Phyllis, a woman from Calvert County who declined to provide her full name for safety reasons. She said she would like to ride Metro to evening events more often but she is afraid because of the lack of security at the parking garage. "They need someone patrolling," she said.

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