Law firm

Rape in Downtown Philadelphia: Sexual Assault Suspect in Philadelphia Law Firm Detention; bail set at $3 million

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — A man accused of raping a woman inside a downtown office building is currently in custody in Philadelphia and has been arraigned.

The district attorney’s office said Willie Harris, 49, faces multiple charges for assaulting a woman at a law office.

He is being held on $3 million bail.

Harris was extradited to Philadelphia after being arrested in Gloucester County, New Jersey. He was apprehended two days after the incident.

The Washington Township Police Department credited social media and an alert nurse with helping them locate the suspect.

“We posted the social media post around 9 p.m. and he was in custody at 11 p.m.,” Washington Township Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik said.

The assault happened around 2:14 p.m. on Tuesday July 5 at a law office in the 200 block of North 13th Street.

Police say a 22-year-old woman was raped while her colleague was having lunch. They were the only two working in the office at the time.

Philadelphia police released surveillance video of Harris.

Video reportedly shows the suspect casually entering and exiting the office building prior to the attack.

Once inside the building, police said the suspect went to the 8th floor and entered the unlocked law office.

The man said he was looking for someone, but the victim said she didn’t know the name, according to Capt. James Kearney of the Special Victims Unit. The man then asked the victim to sit on a chair.

Harris then allegedly began rummaging around the office and the victim offered to give the man his Airpods and earrings in hopes he would go away.

He then got angry, beat and choked the victim as she tried to scream for help, police said.

Kearney said the suspect then raped the victim.

The attack was interrupted when the colleague returned to the office. The suspect then fled.

Authorities noted that Harris was spotted in Woodbury, New Jersey the next day.

Two days after the incident, the Washington Township Police Department received reports that Harris had been seen on Egg Harbor Road near the Xpress Mart.

Detectives drove to that location and recovered surveillance video of Harris standing at the bus stop.

Police then posted a “be on the lookout” message on social media with Harris’ photo around 9 p.m. that evening.

It has been shared thousands of times.

Within an hour, a nurse from Jefferson Washington Township Hospital contacted police. The nurse believed the suspect was in the hospital and had just been discharged.

Officers found him on a bench outside and took him into custody.

“An alert nurse here at the hospital saw (the social media post) during her shift and immediately informed hospital security and the police department and we were there within a minute or two and l ‘picked up and took into custody without incident,’ Chief Gurcsik said.

After the arrest, police updated the social media post to say, “Thank you to our follower alert community for viewing and sharing this social media post.”

They added a photo of Harris with the words “in custody.”

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