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Press Release

District Man Pleads Guilty to Felony Sex Offense for Attacking Woman on the Street

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Defendant Encountered Victim on Street at 13th and U Streets NW

            WASHINGTON – Elias Hailu, 37, of Washington, D.C., has pled guilty to sexually abusing a stranger on the street in broad daylight last fall in the 14th Street corridor of Northwest Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu.  

            Hailu pled guilty on March 13, 2018, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to attempted third-degree sexual abuse. After completing any term of incarceration imposed by the Court, Hailu will be subject to 10 years of registration as a sex offender and a period of supervised release. The Honorable Judith Bartnoff scheduled sentencing for May 9, 2018.

            According to the government’s evidence, Hailu encountered the victim on the afternoon of Nov. 15, 2017, as she was walking on U Street toward 13th Street NW. He began to follow the victim, who was a stranger to him, for several blocks while she proceeded to work. All the while, Hailu made sexually explicit proposals to the victim and ignored her repeated requests that he leave her alone. Hailu sexually abused the victim by forcefully grabbing the victim’s breast with his hand. The victim made an immediate report to law enforcement.

            Surveillance footage that captured a portion of Hailu’s conduct showed Hailu’s distinctive clothing, some of which he had been wearing the day before in the same area. Based on the description provided by the victim and the surveillance footage, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was able to identify Hailu as the perpetrator. He was arrested on Nov. 17, 2017, wearing some of the same clothing he had worn during the sexual assault.

            In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu praised the work of officers from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Sexual Assault Unit.  She also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Victim/Witness Advocate Tracy Owusu, Paralegal Specialist Donhue Troy Griffith, and Criminal Investigator John Marsh. Finally, U.S. Attorney Liu commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Matt Williams and Marisa West, who investigated and prosecuted this case.


Updated March 14, 2018

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 18-64