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ANCHORAGE, ALASKA-Chidiebere "Norman" Nwokorie, the Yellow Cab Taxi driver who allegedly raped a woman after picking her up while she was walking to the downtown area of Anchorage to pick up a cell phone battery for her phone, was quickly released on Sunday.
The incident was reported to the Anchorage Police department and they responded to the scene in the Ship Street area of the industrial section of the city. He was arrested and was put before Magistrate James Stanley by phone shortly thereafter.
His hearing lasted less than 16 minutes according to records. Both Detective John Vandervalk, the detective who had done the interview with the victim, and Detective Ross Henikman, who had interviewed the suspect were with Nwokorie when they explained the facts of the case to the Magistrate by speaker phone Sunday.
According to reports, the victim was walking from Mountain View to downtown when the suspect stopped and offered her a ride. She entered the cab, the driver didn’t turn on the meter. After an unsuccessful search for a battery, she requested that he take her home. Instead of responding to her wishes, he took her to the taxi service yard on Ship Street. it was there that the suspect allegedly raped the victim. She said she misdirected the assailant and seeing that as a moment of escape, grabbed her pants and his cell phone and escaped the vehicle.
Nwokorie denied having sex with the woman and denied removing his pants, but the victim was able to identify details that would only be known to her if she had seen him without his pants. Detectives were able to confirm those details when they collected evidence from his body. This evidence was probable cause to detain him according to detectives.
At the hearing, Magistrate Stanley, noting that Nwokorie had no prior criminal record, set his bail at $5,000 without the need of third party custodianship. Stanley also allowed Nwokorie’s bail to be guaranteed by a bail bondsman. Stanley had cautioned Nwokorie against speaking, Nwokorie had already offered information concerning his prior residences in Korea and Holland. Prosecutors were surprised by the low bail requirements.
Fred Adkerson of Fred’s Bail Bonds said in the almost 50 years that he has been in the business, he has never seen a case like this where a suspect receives bail this low. He stated cases of this kind usually require “$25,000 cash only and a third-party custodian. If they’re lucky. Sometimes it’s $50,000.” When bail is guaranteed by a bondsman, only 10% percent is required by the accused.
John Skidmore, Direcctor of the Department of Law’s Criminal Division State District Attorney Supervisor said, “I think $5,000 is way too low for any rape case.”
The victim said when she heard about her assailants release she panicked. She did not know he had been released. She said she had feared death during the incident and also stated, “I was never told that this person was going to be let out of jail.” The 27 year old victim had stiffened her resolve and had intended to plead with the judge on Monday not to release him, but could find no case listed for preliminary hearing. She then went to the main courthouse, where she found he had already been released. She received the information by calling Standing Together Against Rape.
Magistrate James Stanley has declined interviews. He was appointed to his new post this July 11th by Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason. Stanley began his private practice in 1976 in the municipality of Anchorage. He also worked for three years as an administrative law judge and two years as a Family Law Self Help staff attorney.
Nwokorie’s next hearing is August 31st. Detective John Vandervalk says at least two other women have come forward with allegations directed at Nwokorie.
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