Kent

Man arrested for allegedly using dating app to rob, rape victims

SEATTLE -- Deputies arrested a Kent man last Thursday for allegedly using an online dating service popular in the LGBT community to target victims, who he then robbed -- and in one case raped -- at gunpoint.

Prosecutors say 32-year Leverne Maxwell used a dating app called GROWLr to set up meetings in remote locations in both Seattle and Kent.

On April 7, Maxwell allegedly went to a Seattle home to meet a man he had contacted using the app. When he arrived at the house, police say Maxwell, who was going by the name "Jay" pulled out a gun and raped the victim.

During the assault, Maxwell allegedly threatened the victim, saying, ""I will (expletive) kill you you in your own house and no one will hear," according to court documents.

After the assault, the victim locked himself in his bathroom and then climbed out the window. He went to his neighbor's house and called 911. Maxell left the house with the victim's iPad mini, iPhone and Kindle before police arrived.

On April 11, another Seattle man was robbed after agreeing to meet a man on GROWLr. That man, who also went by the name "Jay," robbed the victim of a cell phone and laptop computer at gunpoint inside the victim's house, according to police.

The victim later picked Maxwell's picture out of a photo montage. Detectives also found Maxwell's fingerprints in the home of the first victim, according to police.

King County Deputies arrested Maxwell last Thursday. In addition to the victims in Seattle, police say Maxwell also used the dating app to rob two men in Kent. Neither of the Kent victims were assaulted, but police say the crimes left them shaken.

"The weapon was pointed at them, but neither was physically harmed in any way. But as you can imagine the fear that occurs under those kinds of circumstances is tremendous," said Kent assistant police chief Pat Lowery.

Lowery said he believes there are more victims who have yet to come forward.

"There they feel confident in coming forward and identifying themselves and helping us build a better case to ensure this doesn't happen again," he said.

Maxwell was charged with robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm for the Kent cases. He was also charged with rape, two counts of robbery, and burglary and unlawful possession of a firearm for the Seattle cases.

This was not Maxwell's first run in with the law. He's already been convicted of 11 felonies for crimes ranging from assault to robbery to drug-related crimes.

His next court date will be May 6.