An update on this story. Very little is said about the cultural, let alone religious, reasons the neighbors might not aid a woman in obvious danger. The Somali advocacy spokesman offered the excuse that the largely Somali neighbors were afraid of the police due to past experiences in their home country, but one could still call 911, report the crime, and remain anonymous.
“Hallway rape suspect charged; he denies attack,” by Mara H. Gottfried for the Pioneer Press:
Although police say as many as 10 people witnessed a sexual assault in a St.
Paul hallway, the suspect said he has no memory of what happened.
Rage Ibrahim, 25, said he blacked out from drinking too much alcohol. But he
said he wouldn’t have committed rape.
“I’m so upset because of the situation I’m in,” Ibrahim said, crying as he
headed to the Ramsey County jail on Thursday to turn himself in. “I’ve got a mom, I’ve got a sister. I wouldn’t rape anyone.”
Surveillance video from a Highwood-area apartment hallway makes it clear that a
sexual assault happened Tuesday, St. Paul police Cmdr. Shari Gray said.
Prosecutors charged Ibrahim, of St. Paul, on Thursday with first- and third-
degree criminal sexual conduct.
The “bystander effect” might explain why people didn’t help, psychologists say.
Members of groups who witness a crime, versus one or two individuals, are less likely to intervene, because they don’t feel individually responsible for what’s happening, studies have found.
The culture of many people who live in the apartment building also could have influenced witnesses’ behavior, said Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul. A large number of Afton View apartment residents are Somalis,
who tend to mistrust and fear the police, Jamal said.
“The only system they know (from Somalia) is a military, totalitarian government that tortures and executes people,” he said. “Their understanding is a system that oppresses and that kills. People have no rights. They are used to keeping quiet and not saying anything.”
Someone called 911 at 2:43 a.m. and reported two drunken people in the hallway. As a result, police classified the call as a disturbance and assigned it the
department’s lowest priority number for response.
Officers arrived at 3:25 a.m. and found Ibrahim and the woman in the hallway.
If police had known a violent crime was in progress, the call would have been
classified as a Priority 2, rather than a Priority 4, said Tom Walsh, a police spokesman.
Priority 1 is reserved for reports of officers down, he said.
When police arrived, they found Ibrahim and the woman in the hallway, both half-dressed and with scratches on their faces, the criminal complaint said. Officers overheard the woman say she just wanted to die.
According to the complaint:
Ibrahim told police they were drunk and the woman was his girlfriend. Gray said
the two were not boyfriend and girlfriend.
The woman told police Ibrahim had drugged and raped her. She said she had gone
to a friend’s apartment and that a man she knew by the nickname Gomay was there. Ibrahim
later told police he is known as Gomay.
After drinking during the evening, the woman said, she began to leave. Gomay
tried to stop her by repeatedly punching and slapping her as he attempted to rape her. She said Gomay was trying to kill her.
Paramedics took the woman to Regions Hospital in St. Paul for a sexual assault
exam, which found semen on her body. In addition, the woman suffered numerous scratches,
cuts and bruises on her legs, face and shoulder.
Police arrested Ibrahim at the scene. He was held in the jail until early Thursday, then released when the 48-hour window prosecutors had to charge him expired. Prosecutors charged him later in the morning, and an arrest warrant was issued. Ibrahim turned himself in early Thursday evening.
He and a friend picked up the woman Monday night and went to the friend’s
Winthrop Street apartment, he said. Ibrahim, who said he cleans planes for a living, said he and the woman drank two bottles of gin between them.
Despite the woman’s contention Ibrahim drugged her, he said he “absolutely” had
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