PHOENIX — Phoenix police have arrested a man for a sexual assault that took place in an alley. Officers say the suspect, Jerome Massie, is accused of a luring a woman while she was seeking help at a nearby shelter.
It all took place early Friday morning near 28th and Van Buren streets and began at the Community Bridges facility.
The female victim told police that Massie told her, "There was a long line and offered to take her back to his house where he helps recovering addicts."
"The fact that she was targeted while seeking services is, first of all, terrible. But also incredibly all too common," said Cameron Stevenson, with the Arizona Housing Coalition.
The victim told police she went with Massie and he led her to a nearby alley, where he allegedly offered her meth for sex. When she refused, the woman says Massie "told the victim he would just have to take it" and then forcibly raped her.
"About 90% of people who are experiencing homelessness, experience some type of assault, whether it's physical [or] sexual. It is something that is rampant," said Stevenson.
Experts also believe the crimes are widely underreported. "Oftentimes people, when they are looking for help, find themselves the suspect instead of the victim," said Stevenson.
The woman, in this case, found the courage and strength to return to Community Bridges and ask employees called 911.
According to court documents, when the victim was showing officers the alleyway where she was raped, she noticed Massie standing at the end of the block, and pointed him out to officers.
Officers rushed over to question Massie and they say he "spontaneously told them there had been a lot of women getting raped in the alleyways."
In the report though, officers noted that they never "told Jerome why they stopped him prior to making those statements."
A crime map revealed three sexual assaults, within a few blocks of Community Bridges, all in the past month.
Phoenix police told ABC15 "The suspect has not immediately [been] linked to any other known cases."
As for what Massie claimed, about recurring sexual assaults in alleys, Phoenix police say they are not seeing a trend.
So far, in the first six months of 2019, Phoenix police have reported more than 500 rapes.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, call police immediately. You can learn more here.