City officer indicted in abduction, sex assault

Woman was handcuffed and forced into house

February 27, 2004|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore police officer charged with handcuffing and sexually assaulting a woman in a vacant building last month was ordered held on $250,000 bail yesterday by a city judge who called the allegations in the case "very disturbing."

The accused officer - Keith A. Jennings, 37, of the Southern District - appeared in handcuffs before Circuit Judge John M. Glynn yesterday afternoon at a brief hearing. It was not clear yesterday evening whether he would be able to post bail.

Jennings was indicted late Wednesday on charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and misconduct. He is accused of handcuffing an 18-year-old woman on a street in South Baltimore on Jan. 15, forcing her into a nearby house and sexually assaulting her, police said.

Police say they charged Jennings after the woman recalled the license tag of his unmarked car and picked him out of a photo lineup. DNA tests also linked Jennings to evidence recovered from the woman and her clothing, police said.

Jennings' lawyer, Catherine Flynn, said she was "looking forward to going to trial."

"They are false allegations," Flynn said, declining to elaborate. "I am fully prepared to defend against anything this woman has to say."

The Sun does not identify victims of sexual assaults.

According to statements made by the 18-year-old to police, the incident began about 6 p.m. as she stood with a friend in the first block of S. Calhoun St. and spotted a white Mitsubishi Gallant.

Thinking the car might be an unmarked police vehicle, she memorized its license plate, she told investigators.

A few moments later on West Fayette Street, the woman again saw the Mitsubishi. This time, it stopped in the middle of the block, and a man stepped out of a passenger-side door, police said.

The man identified himself as a police officer and told the woman that she matched the description of someone who had been reportedly selling drugs in the area, according to investigators.

After placing the woman in handcuffs, the officer forced the woman into a nearby vacant house in the first block of N. Norris St., police said.

Inside the vacant house, the man sexually assaulted the woman, police said.

Within a few hours, the woman reported the assault to her mother, who called police.

After obtaining the car's license plate number from the victim, investigators tracked it to a rental car company and learned that it had been leased to the department. Jennings and another officer in the Southern District's drug squad had been using the car that day, police said.

Authorities declined yesterday to name the officer who was driving the car or say whether he is also under investigation.

The day after the alleged assault, the victim picked Jennings out of a photo lineup, according to investigators.

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