A rapist targeting young men in a Texas refinery town has struck at least five times since April, stalking each victim in advance to make sure he's home alone.
Police in Baytown, 25 miles east of Houston, say the victims are in their late teens or early 20s, and live with their parents. The attacker breaks into the young man's home, or surprises him near the front door and forces him inside. He sexually assaults the victim at gunpoint, sometimes with a knife, then demands money or valuables.
"He's always been careful to make sure no one else is home when he confronts them," Baytown Police Capt. Roger Clifford said. "There have been no witnesses."
The assaults started in April and have occurred every 30 to 60 days. Investigators are working with the FBI to develop a profile of the attacker, described as a light-skinned black male 18 to 21 years old, 5-foot-6 to 6 feet tall, and weighing about 200 pounds. The victims are white and "fairly identical in stature," Clifford said. "He's bigger and can dominate them."
Women who have been raped are often reluctant to come forward for fear of being ostracized or victimized again; for men those fears can be stronger, police say.
In the Baytown attacks, police suspect even more young men have been assaulted but are ashamed to come forward. Some of the five known victims told police about the attacks after initially reporting a robbery, Clifford said. "When you're talking about the humiliation of being dominated and threatened with your life to perform sexual acts, it's understandable."
But, he said, police need help catching the attacker. "We don't have any solid leads in this case at all. We need a break."
Rapes aren't always reported by men because "they're afraid they may be perceived as homosexual, or their masculinity may be threatened," said Lynn Parrish, spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
"When someone goes through it, the effects can be devastating, especially if you're male. It's important that they reach out and get help."
Justice Department surveys have shown that one in 10 rape victims is male, and one in 33 men is a victim of sexual assault.