Rape at downtown Philadelphia law firm prompts search for suspect

» Update: Police on Thursday identified Willie L. Harris, 49, as the suspect wanted in the rape of a 21-year-old woman at a downtown law office earlier this week. Harris has ties to Camden and Woodbury in New Jersey as well as downtown, police said. »

Detectives are investigating the rape of a 22-year-old employee at an eighth-floor law office Tuesday afternoon in the city center, police said.

“He’s a violent sexual predator,” said Captain James Kearney, commander of the Special Victims Unit. told reporters Wednesday.

Just before 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, an unidentified man entered an office building in the 200 block of North 13th Street, then entered the unlocked office on the eighth floor and confronted the woman, who was alone at the time. there, Kearney said.

The man ordered the woman to sit down and began rummaging through items in the office, Kearney said. The woman, hoping to get the man to leave, offered him wireless headphones and earrings.

The man became “frustrated and angry” and began beating and choking the woman, then raped her, Kearney said.

A colleague who had been out for lunch returned to the office and broke up the assault, causing the man to flee, Kearney said. The colleague told police she had seen the man hanging around outside the building when she had left for lunch half an hour earlier.

On surveillance video after the attack, the man can be seen heading south on 13th to Spring Street, then there is a 20-minute gap before the man reappears on video around the 12th and Spring Streets, and is last seen heading north from there, Kearney said.

The suspect is described as a man in his 30s, between 5ft 8in and 5ft 11in tall, with a regular build and dark complexion, Kearney said. The suspect was wearing a black baseball-style cap with a sticker or branding on the right side of the brim. He wore a black T-shirt, which is possibly an Adidas shirt, a white shirt underneath, jeans and dark shoes, Kearney said.

The suspect also wore a gold watch and a distinctive black and silver belt, Kearney said.

Kearney asked merchants and area residents to check their security cameras for possible video of the suspect at the time of the attack.

Kearney also asked people working in offices to exercise caution.

“We want everyone to be alert, to be aware of your surroundings” and “if you don’t know the person, they don’t have a [door-entry] card, don’t be the only one letting them in,” Kearney said.

Anyone who possibly sees the suspect should call 911, police said.

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