Friday, December 12, 2008

Traffic Stop of Man Accused Of Being Wooded Rapist Challenged

From WSMV:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Evidence that is crucial in the "Wooded Rapist" case was challenged in court Tuesday morning. [...]

[officer Elliot Hamm] and five other Brentwood officers canvassed the Meadow Lake subdivision looking for a suspicious person after a 911 call came in that a man was seen looking through windows of cars at a Brentwood home.

Hamm spotted Burdick's empty Jeep Cherokee on the side of the road the same night. An hour later, police pulled the Jeep over. Burdick said he was at a party, which police found was not true.

The Brentwood officer testified Tuesday it was raining that night, and during roll call, they all were told to keep a look out for signs of the "Wooded Rapist," who often committed his crimes in inclement weather. [...]

Burdick is accused of raping more than a dozen women in Davidson, Williamson and Wilson counties for more than a decade.

Since the previous challenge of this search was rejected, this challenge likely will be rejected as well.

The defense strategy seems to demand that police not do full investigations. When there is a report of suspicious behavior by someone on foot, especially in circumstances that match the MO of a serial rapist, empty vehicles in that area need to be investigated and that includes investigating those vehicles and their drivers when they are leaving the area.

This is not the same as a random stop which might be argued to be done without sufficient cause.

The reported action is important because of details about these crimes described in a previous story about this case.

Authorities believe Burdick used an assortment of items to spy on his victims before he attacked. When police arrested him last week, they found five guns, ammo, scopes, a lock-pick set, flashlights and five different pairs of binoculars, including a pair of binoculars with night vision.

"It is shocking, but it's also very commonplace that you see rapists stalk their victims before they rape them," said rape and sexual abuse expert Kathy Walsh. [...]

According to court documents, the "Wooded Rapist," "made statements to the victims that indicated he had been watching the victims or their residences." When the "Wooded Rapist" got in the house, he wore gloves and would bind the victim with plastic ties and place duct tape over her eyes.

With what the police learned about this rapist prior to this arrest, the actions described in the 911 call fit with the behavior of the "wooded rapist" including that rapist's preference for stalking his victims.

Not surprisingly Burdick presented himself to acquaintances as a decent guy which too often in acquaintance rape cases is used by the defense attorneys as proof that the alleged rape victim is a vindictive liar.

Buford Tune said he remembers Burdick, who attended firearms training classes that Tune taught in 2005. Tune said that looking back now, Burdick played a good con game.

"The con that he was giving was this Mr. Nice Guy. The only thing that we can put together is when he was doing this Mr. Nice Guy act, that was just giving him more fuel to look for more victims," Tune said.

Burdick was a correctional officer at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville in 2000. It’s during his time as an officer that Burdick was accused of propositioning a female corrections officer.

In 2000 Burdick was disciplined for conduct unbecoming a state employee, but for too many people this behavior gets dismissed as having no relation to sexual ethics or ethics in general.

This dismissal of alleged rapists' past sexual behavior as irrelevant is in sharp contrast to assumptions many people make about those who report rape.

Update (4/30/09): Burdick has been convicted of the November 2007 rape of a 61-year-old woman.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:53 AM   0 comments links to this post


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