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Press Release

District Man Indicted for First-Degree Sexual Abuse And Other Charges in 2001 and 2002 Attacks

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Defendant's Arrest Followed Recent DNA Analysis

            WASHINGTON -  Chelo Gwathmey, 38, of Washington D.C., was indicted today on charges stemming from armed rapes of two women in 2001 and 2002, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

            Gwathmey was indicted by a grand jury in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on charges of first-degree sexual abuse while armed with aggravating circumstances, and related offenses. Gwathmey was arrested on Aug. 15, 2016, and has been in custody while awaiting further court proceedings. He will be arraigned on a date to be scheduled by the Court.  The charges of first-degree sexual abuse while armed with aggravating circumstances carry a statutory maximum penalty of life in prison.

            The indictment followed an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Metropolitan Police Department into two separate sexual assaults that occurred in 2001 and 2002.  The first victim was walking home alone in the early morning hours of Aug. 26, 2001, in the vicinity of 9th and Upshur Streets NW, when she was accosted by a man wielding a knife. The man forced her inside of his vehicle and raped her.  The second victim was raped at gunpoint in the early morning hours of Aug. 27, 2002, inside a vehicle in an alleyway adjacent to the unit block of Van Buren Street NW.

            Forensic analysis of the sex kits collected following the two assaults revealed that the same unknown male DNA profile was found on the biological material in both cases. In the summer of 2016, detectives with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Sexual Assault Unit developed the defendant as a suspect in these assaults and obtained a warrant to collect a DNA sample from him.  Forensic analysis revealed that Gwathmey’s DNA profile matched the unknown male DNA profile found in the sex kits collected following both assaults.

            An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

            In announcing the indictment, U.S. Attorney Phillips and Chief Lanier commended the work of those who are investigating the case from the Metropolitan Police Department.  They also acknowledged the efforts of those handling the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Victim/Witness Advocate Veronica Vaughan, Paralegal Specialist D’Yvonne Key, and Michael Ambrosino, Special Counsel for DNA and Forensic Evidence Litigation. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amy Zubrensky and Jason Park, who are prosecuting the matter.

Updated August 17, 2016

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 16-148