Court Paperwork Reveals Details of Harrowing Alleged Rape
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Assistant District Attorney Sara Van Strydonck has had her share of detestable cases. This one is right there with them.
"Horrific. I don't think there's a better way of saying it. They involve two individuals, one of whom is a minor... just a teenager."
The indictment, victim statement, and police reports read like the script of a terrifying movie; one that that includes the rape of a woman and a teenage girl by a total stranger.
Police say in late June, Solomon Weems, 32, broke into a home in the city's southeast side. The victim told police he then tied her and the 15-year-old up with shoelaces and repeatedly raped them. The report says throughout the ordeal that lasted for hours, he had a gun and kept threatening to kill them.
According to reports, Weems then began searching around the house to find things to steal.
He took the victims' phones, a computer and car and left.
The woman and teenager then ran to the neighbor's house to call for help.
Weems is charged with 18 counts that include rape, kidnapping, robbery and grand larceny. He's also charged with a section of the predatory sexual assault law that Van Strydonck said is being used in Monroe County for the first time in this case. It increases the sentence for those who rape more than one person in the same the event.
"The legislature felt that someone that commits the act of rape or criminal sexual act against more than one person deserves to be punished more severely," she explained. "Therefore, the penalty attached to that is life, just like a murder conviction."
Weems pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. In police reports, he admitted to police he was at the victim's house, but said he was there only trying to find out more information about a shooting that took place on Reynolds Street. Van Strydonck said police investigated and found there's no connection between the victims and Reynolds Street.
We did reached out to Weems' attorney, who could not comment on this story Tuesday.
Jeff Pier, manager of the Rape Crisis Service in Rochester, said they receive more than 2,000 calls a year to its 24-hour confidential hotline service with people, both men and women, looking for information or counseling.
Pier explained the majority of sexual assaults are committed by people who know their victims and only about 30 percent are reported at all.
"There's a lot of evil in this world and a lot of bad things that happen to people in this world but one thing I've learned in working with sexual assault survivors is they're some of the strongest people that we ever met," said Pier. "I think there are services and people out there that can help them get through these devastating times in their lives."
Weems, who told police he was out on parole at the time of the alleged crime, is being held without bail. He's due back in court in September.