Two men are accused in the crime. One is charged with carrying out the rape. The other, the woman's ex-boyfriend, stands accused of posing as the victim online and claiming she harbored a rape fantasy and wanted to be assaulted. The case in the central Wyoming city of Casper, population 54, illustrates that middle America isn't immune to the dangers of Internet anonymity and predators who target victims through online that hint at sex and prostitution.
Prosecutor Mike Blonigen, the Natrona County district attorney, declined to comment on the specifics of the ongoing rape case. But he said Internet cases generally pose a challenge to law enforcement.
And of course, they have to make some overt act to actually accomplish any of these things. We're not the thought police.
In the Casper case, Blonigen's office has charged Ty Oliver McDowell, 26, of Bar Nunn, a Casper suburb, with three counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of kidnapping and one count of aggravated burglary. A few days before the Casper woman was raped, she had complained to the Natrona County Sheriff's Department that someone had made a false Craigslist posting about her, including photographs and personal information.
The ad read, "Need a real aggressive man with no concern for women," authorities said. Craigslist took the advertisement down when the woman complained. Yet prosecutors say it was posted long enough to catch the attention of McDowell, a medical technologist.
According to a statement filed in court by Natrona County Sheriff's Deputy Todd Sexton, McDowell waived his right to remain silent and talked to deputies investigating the case. McDowell told investigators that he had corresponded with a person he thought was the woman at an e-mail address featured on the advertisement, Sexton wrote. However, prosecutors charge that McDowell was actually communicating by e-mail with Stipe, the woman's former boyfriend.
They say Stipe posted the ad to set the woman up for the attack without her knowledge.
The San Bernardino County Calif. Sheriff's Department on Dec. Marine Corps then stationed at Twentynine Palms.
A spokeswoman for the Marine Corps said Stipe enlisted in July and, "was being processed for administrative separation as a result of a pattern of misconduct at the time of his arrest. The Casper case is one of several sex crimes to grab headlines recently in which the Internet linked perpetrators and victims.
Law enforcement officials around the country also have in the past accused Craigslist of promoting prostitution. Scrutiny of Craigslist increased ificantly when prosecutors in Boston last year charged that former medical student Philip Markoff used Craigslist to arrange a meeting with masseuse Julissa Brisman. He's accused of shooting her to death last April and of attacking other women he met through the site.
InCraigslist agreed to tighten its adult services advertisements as part of an agreement with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and with the attorneys general for 43 states and territories, including Wyoming. Under the agreement, Craigslist started requiring a working telephone and charging a small credit card fee for each such ad.
Craigslist didn't respond to an e-mail sent to their San Francisco headquarters seeking comment on the Wyoming rape case, although a company phone message requests that press inquiries be made by e-mail.
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Grid View. In this Tuesday, Jan. Stipe is accused of posting a fake personal ad on Craigslist, pretending to be a women he briefly dated.
The ad led to the violent rape of the woman, according to authorities. The man who answered the ad, Ty Oliver McDowell, has been accused of the rape.
McDowell has been accused of violently raping a Casper woman after responding to a fake Craigslist ad for a rough sexual fantasy. Jebidiah Stipe, who briefly dated the victim in the past, has been accused of placing the fake ad. Dan Cepeda, Associated Press.
Lawyers representing McDowell and Stipe declined comment. Blonigen, the Casper prosecutor, said Craigslist was cooperative with Wyoming investigators.
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