ELIZABETH — Earlier this week authorities arrested an Elizabeth man and charged with him a series of sexual assaults that occurred over a six-week span, Union County First Assistant Prosecutor Albert Cernadas, Jr. announced yesterday.
Rasheed Powell, 36, is charged with 10 counts of first degree aggravated sexual assault; two counts of first degree attempted aggravated sexual assault; 12 counts of first degree robbery; and six counts of second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
According to the investigators, beginning in early March, Powell would target couples checking into motels in Linden and Elizabeth on weekend nights. He would force his way into the room at gunpoint where he would force the couple to engage in sexual acts, and then order the male into a bathroom and he would sexually assault the female victim, said Cernadas.
The assaults took place at the Swan Motel in Linden, the Benedict Motel in Linden, the Spring Lane Motel in Elizabeth, and the Royal Motel in Elizabeth, said Cernadas.
Investigators are aware of at least six occasions where this occurred in the span of six weeks, including two attacks last weekend. Powell was identified through the use of forensic science and other evidence collected by investigators, said Cernadas.
“Powell is clearly a sexual predator who acted quickly and viciously,” said Cernadas. “The efficient cooperation of several law enforcement agencies was able to connect the dots between the crimes and efficiently worked towards identifying the suspect and coordinating his arrest.”
At the time of at least two of the assaults Powell was driving a white Acura MDX with Pennsylvania license plates, registered to an address in Easton, said Cernadas.
Powell was arrested on April 16 while at the Springfield Municipal Court where he was responding to a traffic summons. The Springfield Police Department and Elizabeth Police Department made the arrest under the direction of the Prosecutor’s Sex Crimes Unit.
Powell is currently in custody on $3 million bail.
This remains an active investigation and authorities are asking anyone with information to contact Detectives Jim DiOrio and Benny Carvalho at the Elizabeth Police Department or Det. Patricia Gusmano of the Prosecutor’s Office at 1-908-527-4589.
The charges against Powell are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.