Alleged Rape Case Forwarded to Circuit Court

OCEAN CITY- An Ocean City man arrested on rape charges in
April after an alleged sexual assault on a 17-year-old girl passed out from
alcohol had has case forwarded to Circuit Court this week after a preliminary
hearing in District Court in Ocean City, but not before some questions were
raised about his involvement in the case.

Semeredin Bederu, 24, of Ocean City, was arrested on
second-degree rape and second-degree assault charges on April 3 for an alleged
attack on a 17-year-old girl from Cumberland, Md. which began with a chance
meeting on the Boardwalk and ended with the girl joining a group of men at a
party in a downtown apartment complex. The intoxicated victim was walking on the
Boardwalk late at night when she was approached by a group of men near 6th

The victim reportedly drank with the group at a 6th
Street apartment before the party later moved to Jocelyn Manner on 8th
Street. According to police reports, the victim eventually passed out and was
place in a bedroom in the apartment. It was then, according to witnesses, that
Bederu went into the bedroom and had intercourse with the passed out victim.

During the night, the victim became ill and started to
vomit before she was moved to a sofa in the living room. Around 8 a.m., the
other man charged in the rape case, Senay Haile, 25, also of Ocean City, tried
to have sex with the still passed out victim, who suddenly awoke and began
screaming. She then fled the apartment and returned later with a group of male
friends to confront her alleged attacker.

Shortly before 11 a.m. that day, Ocean City Police were
called to the scene for a reported disturbance at the apartment where the
victim’s friends were confronting her alleged assailants. When police arrived,
the victim told them about the attempted rape by Haile, but it wasn’t until
detectives interviewed witnesses at the party when they found out about
Bederu’s alleged sexual assault on the victim hours earlier. The victim was not
even aware of the alleged sexual assault on her by Bederu when police arrived
to break up the disturbance the next morning, according to police reports.

Bederu and Haile were later arrested and charged with
second-degree rape and second-degree assault. At the preliminary hearing for
Bederu in District Court in Ocean City on Monday, the detective investigating
the case told Judge Daniel Mumford he had witness testimony that Bederu went
into the bedroom and had sexual relations, but when questioned on cross-examination,
the officer told the court his witness did not actually see Bederu having
intercourse with the passed out victim.

Instead, the witness reported seeing Bederu naked from
behind standing next to the bed where the victim was passed out, although the
witness never did see the suspect having sex with the girl. The witness said it
appeared Bederu was having sex with the passed out girl, but was not entirely

Another witness, however, told OCPD detectives Bederu had
confessed to him that he had sex with the girl. In the testimony, the witness
said Bederu said, “This wasn’t good. I should never have had sex with her. This
was a big mistake,” according to the detective in court on Monday.

Bederu’s attorney Tony Booker hammered home the point there
was not enough evidence to forward the case to Circuit Court. Booker said there
was no evidence any sex period, and even if there was sex, there was no
evidence it was not consensual. Booker also questioned the timeline of the
events which were not entirely clear in the testimony.

Booker also questioned whether Bederu was correctly
identified as the attacker. A test on the victim revealed some ejaculate, but
no identification has been made. According to the victim, she woke up to find
Haile on top of her, but did not remember having any sexual relations, forced
or otherwise, with Bederu.

“They have absolutely no evidence to take this beyond a
preliminary hearing,” he said. “There is no evidence of a rape in this case,
period. No proof of any kind. A lot of people do things when they are drunk and
they don’t remember. There is simply no probable cause.”

Mumford appeared to grasp Booker’s pleadings, but decided
in the end to forward the case to Circuit Court anyway. “I appreciate your
arguments,” he said. “I just think they might be more appropriately made in
Circuit Court.”