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.