Teen-ager raped after leaving library Victim, sister were waiting for their mother

March 22, 1996|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,SUN STAFF

A man who said he had a gun ordered a Columbia teen-ager and her 7-year-old sister off a bench outside the Howard County Central Library after it closed Wednesday night and raped the teen in nearby woods, Howard County police said yesterday.

The 15-year-old rape victim was treated at Howard County General Hospital and released, police said. The younger girl was not physically assaulted.

Liz Lancaster, branch manager of the library in the 10300 block of Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia's Town Center, said the incident may make library officials reconsider safety plans for departing visitors, scores of whom each night are children.

Library officials said doors are locked at 9 p.m. In foul weather, visitors are allowed to wait inside the library's glass foyer. But safety has not been an issue before, Ms. Lancaster said. "We're very distressed," she said. "We're concerned about everybody's safety."

The sisters were waiting for their mother on a bench just outside the library's front doors, police said. A man approached and offered them a ride, and when they refused he told them he had a gun and ordered them to start walking.

The man led the girls to a wooded area about 150 yards away and ordered both girls to undress. He raped the 15-year-old and then told the girls to run, threatening to shoot them if they stopped, police said.

The girls ran to Toby's Dinner Theatre, just southwest of the library, and police were called.

The teen-ager is the seventh rape victim this year in Howard County, which recorded 32 rapes in 1995.

Wednesday's rape was unusual because it involved a stranger attacking a young person, said Sgt. Steven Keller, a police spokesman. "This is not something that occurs with regularity," he said.

Investigators checked the woods behind the library yesterday for evidence. The crime scene is near a concrete bridge that spans U.S. 29, which has been the site of numerous robberies and rape attempts during the past two years.

Police interviewed the victims again yesterday to get more information and to get a composite drawing, Sergeant Keller said.

The suspect was described as a slim, 6-foot black male, age 30 to 40, with a stubby gray beard and hair cut short on the sides of his head. He wore a black leather jacket and black pants, police said.

Anyone with information should call the Metro Crime Stoppers Hotline at 276-8888 to qualify for a $2,000 reward.

Pub Date: 3/22/96

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