Monday’s rape sparks questions and fuels homelessness debate

Christopher Teel was charged Wednesday with first-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation, two days after he is accused of attacking a woman in the temporary restroom of a Ballard car dealership. Photographs of Teel appeared in The Seattle Times in November, accompanying a story about the Ballard Nickelsville homeless camp. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

In a neighborhood that’s already grappling with homelessness, the news that a woman was raped in a car dealership bathroom in Ballard has fueled an already-heated debate. It also raises questions about the suspect’s bench warrant and Seattle Police’s delay in talking about the case.

Here are several stories covering the fallout:

  • Suspect Christopher Teel had an outstanding bench warrant for failing to appear in court after he was arrested for squatting in a Magnolia house. So why wasn’t he picked up earlier? Q13 reports the city has 11,314 bench warrants active in Seattle, and SPD said officers can’t actively pursue everyone with a warrant.
  • When asked why Seattle Police didn’t release information about the rape until the media discovered the court documents on Wednesday, spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb told KIRO TV he decided not to tell the public out of respect to the victim. “The answer is the victim gets this much added time to deal with the trauma they went through,” he told KIRO, adding that there was no public threat because the suspect was in custody. Our editorial comment: The victim’s privacy will be preserved regardless (rape victims’ names are never released), and it’s important the neighborhood knows about the incident precisely for public safety. This was an attack from a stranger, not someone she knew, and it happened in an area that’s seen a surge in crime over the last several months.
  • KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson, an outspoken critic of the city’s response to homelessness, interviewed the woman who fought off a sex offender in the Golden Gardens bathroom last year. “What do we have to do, fight these guys off one by one, put them in prison one by one, is that our responsibility to shoulder now, or is the city going to take care of us?” Kelly Heron said. “That’s what we pay for, right? …. Is it too much to ask for just a baseline of safety to live in the city to which you pay taxes?”
  • David Moody lives right across the alley from the Whittier Heights Village for Women, which is slated to open around the end of the month on 15th Ave. NW. He told KING 5 (video) that he’s worried the new homeless encampment will contribute to drug use and crime in the neighborhood. A LIHI volunteer disagrees. “I think we’d find out that there’s just as much crime with any other group,” he told KING 5.

Teel is being held in the King County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bail.

45 comments on “Monday’s rape sparks questions and fuels homelessness debate”

  1. > See upcoming events in our Ballard calendar <

  2. Keep voting for (D) and it’ll get better! Yeah, that’s the ticket. I lived in Fremont/Ballard from 1999-2012 and left the moment I had a family. Ballard is clearly unsafe – indeed, much of Seattle has turned into what might be accurately described as a sh*thole.

    But go on, keep voting for Sawant et. al. It’ll all work out just fine! I think the plan to drive businesses from the city is fantastic, too. If the City Council had voted for even $1/person/year their intent, so signaled, would have driven business away. I’m sure that as everyone who can moves to Bellevue or Texas that Seattle and Ballard will see less and less of these horrible occurrences. I feel bad for the people who can’t leave. Sad!

  3. Not sure how there could be a debate. Who LIKES what’s going on in our neighborhood and our city and thinks that we’re doing anything to change it?

  4. “So why wasn’t he picked up earlier? Q13 reports the city has 11,314 bench warrants active in Seattle, and SPD said officers can’t actively pursue everyone with a warrant.”

    Vagrant enablers like to deflect by saying “privileged housed people” commit these crimes too. It sure would be a fascinating study to see what percentage of those 11,314 warrants are for our “unhoused neighbors.”

  5. A new conservative is just a progressive who has been mugged or had their house broken into.

  6. Letting the City Council and the SJW’s frame this as “business not paying their share” is a huge mistake. The businesses need to flip the script and fire back demanding answers why their employees and customers are hassled and assaulted on a daily basis while attempting to commute, shop or conduct their personal affairs.

    Starbucks on 22nd and Market is a daily circus of crime and disgusting behavior. I would think any big player in the city would’ve tired of the lawlessness long ago instead of parsing words and trying to be politically correct.

    What was the big news today? Oh yeah, some kind of drug squabble AX ATTACK on 3rd and Pine (the famous heroin McD’s) near where a drive by shooting that wounded bystanders occurred months ago. Nice city we have now, isn’t it?

  7. Is it true that the car dealership has been having a lot of problems and that they have been in touch with the police? I hope someone investigates this issue.

  8. @Hayduke:
    I’m guessing you’d see at least 25% of the warrants are for the transient population. But, I don’t have accurate figures (nor does the city, because hey, can’t just search the homeless, right?), so who knows? Could be much higher. But I’m guessing it’s not lower than at least 25%. Feel free to call me a right-wing sockpuppet as well…seems we’ve heard a lot less from our resident SJW’s since this happened.

  9. There has already been way too much of this. Why do homeless people have a separate set of laws than “homed” people.. What we need is to have the SAME set of laws for EVERYONE and they need to be ENFORCED on EVERYONE. God, why is that so hard to understand, it’s the principle our society is based on.

    Enabling policies are doing just that – enabling our homeless population to do whatever they want.

    If there is a void, people will appear to fill it. If we keep letting people camp on the streets/parks/Rvs, then the streets will continue to be full. That is unsafe/unfair for everyone.

  10. @Anne: Careful, you can’t bring logic into a conversation about the homeless! If people started thinking clearly (instead of using only their bleeding heart FEE FEES) they’d probably start to say “no respect for the law, no accountability, no thanks. Cops do your job, city council let the cops do their jobs. If there’s no money trail to justify your taxes and spending, the programs need to stop. If they don’t want to be part of society, they don’t get to live in our society.” Plenty of open land in other parts of America they can squat in. Might not be anyone to rob though…

  11. “A new conservative is just a progressive who has been mugged or had their house broken into”

    Or raped.

  12. To those who say “people experience houselessness” have the same rates of criminality as us. Well, they don’t.

    “15% of jail inmates had been homeless in the year prior to their incarceration and 54% of homeless individuals report spending time in a correctional facility at some point in their lives”

    Source: National Health Care for the Homeless Council

    I know, I know. You’re gonna argue that they’re “experiencing houselessness because of the the criminal justice system is unfair!” because everyone knows, hobos can’t have any personal responsibility.

  13. “A new conservative is just a progressive who has been mugged or had their house broken into”

    Similarly, a new liberal is a conservative who has just been indicted.

  14. @Public Intellectual:
    We’re a nation of enablers now. It starts with participation trophies, ‘heavy’ supermodels, and ‘unfortunate’ homeless people. Truly, if America is the land of opportunity, not everyone is going to succeed at the same level. Some are born into a multi-million dollar inheritance, some are born intellectually gifted, others are born with faulty wiring. Is this their fault? Certainly not all of them. But what about the ones who choose to mess with their brain chemistry by using meth, huffing glue, or becoming a drunk? Should we also ‘feel sorry’ for them? Or should we say “well, you had your turn in the game of life, you lost. Go directly to jail, don’t pass go, don’t collect 200 dollars, don’t get a free mini-house courtesy of Seattle taxpayers.” At some point, you have to draw the line. And yes, I know these people are ‘still human beings too’, but they don’t contribute. Most of us are tired of ‘contributing’ for them.

  15. Scumbag refused to show up in front of the judge today. How about a public beating in Bergen Place?

  16. I literally don’t understand what ya’ll are saying. It is obviously 100% horrible and despicable that this woman was sexually assaulted, and we should hold her experience at the fore front of this conversation about the safety of Seattle’s neighborhoods… however… this incident has NO CORRELATIONS to people’s status as homeless. In fact, people with SMI’s (Serious Mental Illnesses, http://mhaky.org/advocacy/mental-health-and-gun-violence/), many of whom are homeless, are consistently found to be less violent than “stable” people, and are in fact victimized at a higher rate than people without mental illness.

    Sweeps do NOT help this problem… moving people from neighborhood to neighborhood means that they are unable to receive services because case managers and social workers don’t know where they have moved to… if anything sweeps are causing there to be a larger homeless epidemic, because the instability of encampments makes long term support and care impossible.

    I just don’t get how you can extrapolate this one person’s horrific behavior to include ALL homeless people, it doesn’t make sense, and it is hurting a huge population of vulnerable folks who need SUPPORT from neighbor communities, not more discrimination. The way to solve systemic issues is not to take supports away, but to offer MORE supports!

  17. Living in Seattle has broken my spirit. It’s left me feeling filled with hopelessness and despair and fear and uncertainty.

  18. @More Support Needed:
    Nope, you’re barking up the wrong blog. We’re all tired of being robbed blind by the city leaders for their failed homeless initiatives. If you have a better plan (and it does sound like you’ve given it some thought), figure out a way to implement it that doesn’t involve more taxation. Run for office, or go work for a company that deals directly with the homeless, and be the difference. It sounds like the rest of us have had enough. Too little, too late, perhaps.

  19. I appreciate More Support Needed taking the time to write. You might want to reflect though on why you appear to be in the minority view here. I’d also just add that we’re not saying this behavior includes ALL homeless people. Many of us have gone out of the way repeatedly to distinguish between legitimate homeless not engaging in criminal behavior versus homeless criminals using meth/heroin and sealing property to fund their addiction. The outrage in this case is in part from cumulative violent incidents (this was the second homeless bathroom rape in Ballard in 14 months). Second, this perp was living in a Seattle taxpayer funded camp where residents don’t receive full background checks, letting this perp with an outstanding warrant slip through the cracks putting the Ballard public in danger. Now a Ballard woman has been raped. The danger posed by the camps is precisely the repeated concern neighbors state when these drug-camps are moved into Seattle neighborhoods. A third point of contention is the inefficient spending of taxpayer dollars. Is it true we spend more per capita than any major city in America on “homeless”. The forth point of contention was this rapist was from Texas where he had a Meth-related run-in with law before relocating to Meth and Heroin-friendly Seattle where he was allowed to live in tax-payer funded housing even though he had an outstanding King County warrant for criminal trespass at a Magnolia house.

  20. @More Support Needed: You should ask the people at NE 58th and 5th Ave NE who lived with a hellish illegal encampment literally across the street from them if they think “Sweeps do NOT help this problem.” A recent sweep of it sure helped their problem!

  21. @More Support Needed: You should try asking the people at NE 58th and 5th Ave NE who lived with a hellish illegal encampment literally across the street from them if they think “Sweeps do NOT help this problem.” A recent sweep of it sure helped their problem!

  22. It’s very simple @More Support Needed. Feed a stray, and you will get more strays. So yes, we blame the enablers for encouraging this rapist for setting up shop in Ballard, all the way from Texas. Just like the one from Arizona who attempted to rape the jogger at Golden Gardens less than a year ago.

    And yes, the hard core, long term, roving homeless population has far higher incarceration and sex offender rates than the general population.

  23. More Support: It’s people like you not giving a damn about what has happened to our city that the homeless (criminal homeless and non-criminal homeless, alike) have more rights then income-earning, tax-paying, cleaning-up-after-themselves citizens do. Thanks a lot.

  24. More Support needed, your perspective is very much appreciated but the issue isn’t as simple as you paint it. The cities that offer the most supports will consistently have the worst homeless problems. It is a race to the bottom in a sense. You can see this in cities all over the country. Those that callously refuse services or sweep the homeless out of the city actually have a much lower problem with homelessness. Is it because they are doing such a great job at handling homeless? Well no. Do they deserve to bask in their success and comfort? Hell no. And yet there you have it. So if Seattle offers more services, we will have more homeless and the citizenry has to be on board with that. Thus, my personal opinion is that Seattle – given its narrow tax base and crummy infrastructure – should NOT offer more services. But I do not know the best way to achieve equilibrium, where we can determine how to handle OUR homeless problem – without making it bigger.

  25. @Kip
    @More Support Needed

    Without adequate law enforcement there is no way to prevent the crime that we are seeing all over the city. Compassion without a plan and armed supervision has, sadly, allowed the very worst of the homeless to commit the very worst crimes with relative ease. You would not host a drug and alcohol fueled music festival without lots of security and a means for retaining people who committed crimes on the premises, yet the homeless activists have pushed for settlements, RVs and camps all over the city. There is very little oversight of their behavior and no way to track them down and, like in this rapist’s case, no staff hours available to execute a prior warrant in order to prevent a violent crime.

    For the life of me, I cannot understand why leftists – who are so obsessed with tiny rules about smoking in public places, censoring “offensive jokes”, and creating “safe spaces” in schools for hypersensitive students – have deemed it acceptable to turn our streets over to violent felons and the parks to addicts and sex offenders.

    Would you invite strangers into your house with your kids sleeping upstairs?

  26. do police check for warrants when they investigate an illegal encampment? the people there are trespassing, so that would be reason enough to do a warrant check, make sure any sex offenders are registered properly, etc.

  27. @TOPAZ CHAIR Nice to hear you left Ballard and think Seattle is a sh*thole yet you can’t stay away from the myballard blog.

  28. Are any of the readers of this blog considering running against O’Brien for next year? Now might be a good time to start campaigning. I’m thinking of running myself. I wasn’t born here, though. I’m from nyc and moved here four years ago (not in tech) so I know how to say what I mean and mean what I say; in nyc we get sh*t done. I’m a progressive liberal but am against the sidewalk/Park tent encampments, against regressive taxes (gas, car tabs, soda, etc) that hurt the middle class and poor, and want the police to be able to enforce the law as well as be more present in neighborhoods suffering from property crimes, car break-ins, needles, etc. Does this kind of candidate stand a chance?

  29. I do agree that probably the best way to establish equilibrium is to provide the services we can and then come down pretty hard on everyone else: illegal encampments, illegal camper vans, those with criminal records etc. etc. And that means more policing. I moved her from CA in 1994 and there were people living in campers near my apartment. People who visited me from outside Seattle were amazed by that. So obviously Seattle has a longstanding tolerance for some of this behavior that has, frankly, nothing to do with the recent “homeless crisis”. It’s got to change.

  30. >>A LIHI volunteer disagrees. “I think we’d find out that there’s just as much crime with any other group,” he told KING 5.<<

    And the volunteer instantly proffered statistically reliable evidence to support his claim. Not.

  31. And fools pay more than $700,000 to put down roots in Ballard? We are done. You can’t blame Amazon for drunk/high bums.

  32. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/mental-illness-and-violence
    The MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study was one of the first to address the design flaws of earlier research by using three sources of information to assess rates of violence. The investigators interviewed participants multiple times, to assess self-reported violence on an ongoing basis. They verified participants’ recollections by checking with family members, case managers, or other people familiar with the participants. Finally, the researchers also checked arrest and hospitalization records.
    The study found that 31% of people who had both a substance abuse disorder and a psychiatric disorder (a “dual diagnosis”) committed at least one act of violence in a year, compared with 18% of people with a psychiatric disorder alone. This confirmed other research that substance abuse is a key contributor to violent behavior.
    So if you read the whole long article which references many studies-the best you can come up with is that people with major mental illness are more likely-significantly but not greatly to commit violence (taking into account neighborhoods, childhood dynamics and income level both as adult and in childhood). When you add substance abuse (which for some irrational reason is labeled self medicating by the sjw-when what they are doing is making them worse)-then the mentally disturbed are very likely to commit violent acts. What we have is mentally ill people consuming a whole lot of drugs.
    Facts matter.

  33. “What we have is mentally ill people consuming a whole lot of drugs.”

    And no more involuntary lockup because that would be mean.

  34. Guesty, to answer your question that you posted at 4:42 p.m.: no, the cops do not do a warrant check when they search an illegal encampment. Nor does SHARE/LIHI do one when campers come to move in to their sites.

  35. Am I the only one here that wants to just get about 20 of those canned air horns and start going tent to tent blowing the horn til the people just leave. I wonder if we could start a ballard group that just blow horns the homeless people camped out in the parks. I think that would be a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

  36. As a landlord, I’m pretty sure I’d be sued if I had brought a scumbag like this guy into a community. That’s why I do background screening and several other checks. In this case, the city has harbored a criminal and I would love to see them sued. Maybe then they will pay attention.

  37. This is a terrible crime against the victim and her life will never be the same. The suspect is young and will probably be back on the street, at age
    30, terrorizing the community again. Hope he gets the max sentence.

  38. I think the police ‘not being able to enforce the law’ is kind of a fake thing.

    Sure they won’t ticket a vehicle someone is living in, but any quasi serious crime needs to be dealt with and if it involves more paperwork so be it. They may be understaffed, but I see a lot of indifference with our officers. Most of them probably don’t live around here so don’t care.

    Not giving any free passes for this one– do your job pal

  39. @Trinity: Air Horn would be a good start.
    @John: but as a landlord, you’re expected to uphold the law. As a city council member, you’re expected to crap on your constituents. As a homeless person, you’re allowed to do whatever you want, because boo hoo poor you, you made bad life choices and live in a tent!

  40. “As a landlord, I’m pretty sure I’d be sued if I had brought a scumbag like this guy into a community.”

    Don’t worry, Kshama Lama Ding Dong and Weepy Mike O’Brien will pass a law soon saying you can’t discriminate against rapists. You already can’t discriminate against murderers and thieves.

  41. @AaronDavidson: I miss the Ballard I used to know. I think that many here do, as well. Ten or more years ago my then girlfriend and now wife could walk around after dark expecting that she was undertaking a reasonable risk in so doing. No more. Now a woman might be raped in the bathroom of a car dealership in the daytime, or at Golden Gardens. Of course, that was always true, but only a blithering fool would fail to correlate the increase in drugged out losers who ignore property rights with the general increase in crime and unease.

    So yes, I look at MyBallard. Nostalgia, in a way, and also intelligence gathering to see when or if we should flee this area. We live outside of King County but not by much – it’s instructive to watch what is happening in Ballard/Seattle to understand what changes, should I see them here, indicate that my family is unreasonably unsafe due a bunch of b*stards running around, unopposed by a politically castrated police force.

    I note that you offer no rebuttal of my observations. I hope that you and yours stay safe. Too bad for the poor woman. Too bad she didn’t have a hand cannon. Too bad citizens continue to vote for people who want to control them and hurt them. Seattle was so recently a wonderful city. It is so no longer.

  42. The city has recently been inspecting the dumpster at my apartment complex to verify that tenants are sorting their recyclables and compostable food wastes into separate containers. The manager just recently sent everyone a warning notice that the city found violations. We were given a warning that if this continues to happen, fines may be assessed by the city.

    While walking by some of the campgrounds on Seattle’s sidewalks, I noticed that very few of these folks are sorting their recyclables and compostable food wastes. In fact, I saw several instances of plastic bags being used!

    Seattle has something like 11,000 outstanding bench warrants, some of which are for rapists and other violent vermin. It seems to me that the dumpster inspection task force could be reprogrammed to assist the Police Department in tracking down Mike Obrien’s and Kashama’s extended family who are long overdue for their court appearances.

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