A Silver Spring man was arrested June 18 after police said he arranged to meet a prostitute on a website, then sexually assaulted her after claiming to be a Montgomery County police officer.
Nicholas Morales-Macedo, 21, contacted the prostitute on backpage.com, a personal ad website similar to craigslist.com, said Montgomery County police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks.
County police frequently post warnings on advertisement websites, including backpage, warning residents not to trust ads for sexual or similar services, said Sgt. Kenneth Penrod, a supervisor in the department’s Vice and Intelligence Unit. The lack of accountability that advertisers are held to and the suspicious or outright illegal nature of such services often leaves respondents vulnerable to robbery, extortion and other crimes, Penrod said.
The woman took a cab from a hotel in Washington, D.C., to Morales-Macedo’s house in the 9400 block of Thornhill Road in Silver Spring after he agreed to pay her to perform sexual acts, Starks said.
“She came inside and she noticed right away that he had a knife on his belt. He led her inside, threw the knife on the bed and then told her he would be right back and went into another room,” Starks said.
The woman began to disrobe, but was startled when Morales-Macedo returned with a rifle and told her he was a Montgomery County police officer, Starks added.
“He told her something along the lines of, ‘I’m a Montgomery County police officer, do what I say and you won’t be in any trouble,’” Starks said.
Fearing for her life, the woman did not resist when Morales-Macedo sexually assaulted her, police said. After the assault, the woman left the house and returned to the cab, which she had asked to wait for her outside, Starks said. After calling police and driving to several locations around the county, police met up with the woman in the parking lot of Savannah’s restaurant off Connecticut Avenue in Kensington at 11:51 a.m., police said.
The woman agreed to accompany officers back to Morales-Macedo’s house and identified him as her assailant when he answered the door, Starks said. Police also recovered the rifle Morales-Macedo used in the assault as it was in plain sight in his home, Starks said. Police did acquire a search warrant to enter Morales-Macedo’s home, Starks added.
Morales-Macedo was arrested and charged with one count each of first-degree sex offense and first-degree assault, according to an online search of Montgomery County District Court records on June 20. Morales-Macedo was being held in the Montgomery County Detention Center on a $2 million bond as of June 20, according to court records.
Although the woman was a prostitute, police did not charge her because no transaction took place and she was a victim in the case, Starks said.
Street corner solicitation is exceedingly rare in Montgomery County, however, prostitution is fairly common on websites like backpage, Penrod said. Police believe that crimes associated with the ads — against prostitutes and respondents alike — are also quite common, but many go unreported Penrod added.
“People will look at these sorts of ads and they will know that the [prostitutes] will have money because it is a cash business,” Penrod said. “Also a lot of sexual assaults occur that way and you can look all over the country for examples of some of these ads being placed specifically to extort or rob [respondents] who appear at the door.”
On April 14, 2010, a group of four Washington, D.C., and Prince George’s County men entered the Silver Spring home of a Washington, D.C. school principal, Brian K. Betts, after Betts arranged for one of the men to come to his house over a telephone sex chat line. One of the men shot and killed Betts — he claimed by accident — while attempting to rob him, according to court testimony at the murder trial.
“You don’t know who you’re talking to more than half the time, you’re taking a real chance when you’re taking up these ads,” Penrod explained. “I can put an ad up that can’t be connected to me in any way.”
He also urged anyone who is a victim of such a crime to contact the vice section at email@example.com or call 301-840-2496 to report the crime, even if they wish to remain anonymous.