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Wednesday, October 09, 2019 1:00 am

Trial starts in rape near school bus stop

Prosecutor says man grabbed girl from behind, took to shed

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

The trial began Tuesday for a Fort Wayne man accused last year of raping a 15-year-old girl after taking her from a school bus stop. 

William J. Ray, 36, is charged with rape, kidnapping, criminal confinement, burglary and sexual battery. 

Police said the girl's mother dropped her off about 8 a.m. Nov. 29 at Smith Street and Rudisill Boulevard. Ray approached, dragged the girl to a nearby shed and sexually assaulted her, a probable cause affidavit alleges. 

Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Tesa Helge recounted the events in opening statements, telling jurors in Allen Superior Court that Ray grabbed the girl from behind and took her to the shed, where he pulled down her pants and underwear. 

The girl, now 16, told investigators she used her cellphone to contact a friend during the attack. The friend – in a “frantic phone call,” Helge said – contacted the mother, who reportedly drove to the area and saw Ray holding her daughter in a headlock. 

The mother told The Journal Gazette last year she followed Ray in her car, taking pictures, until police arrived. 

The girl also told police Ray covered her eyes and took her from the shed to a house when he noticed she was using her phone.

The newspaper does not name victims of sex crimes without their permission. The mother's name is being withheld to protect the identity of the alleged victim. 

Helge said “DNA consistent with the defendant” was found on the girl's body.

Defense attorney Gregory Ridenour questioned the version of events and said the alleged crimes – including moving from the shed to the house – happened quickly and without witnesses. 

There typically would have been others waiting for the bus at that location at that time, he said.

“Apparently, there was nobody at that bus stop,” Ridenour told jurors. 

The trial is scheduled to end Thursday. 

mleblanc@jg.net