Moms

Women testify in trial of man accused of sexually assaulting 5

FORT WORTH -- One witness testified that she was taken to Cobb Park in southeast Fort Worth last year, where a man forced her to perform oral sex and then raped her at gunpoint.

She said she escaped by swimming across a creek to get help from three picnickers.

Another woman testified that about two months later, a man marched her behind an abandoned nightclub in southeast Fort Worth, where he pulled a gun and tried to rape her. After fleeing without clothes, she was assaulted by a "good Samaritan" who picked her up, she said. She then got help at a nearby fire station.

The two women testified Tuesday in the trial of Marcus Wayne Rhodes, who is accused of sexually assaulting five women and trying to assault two others from April 2000 to April 21, 2009. He was arrested a day after the last two assaults.

The cases had many similarities. The women were all working as prostitutes or had previous prostitution arrests. The assailant offered them rides and drove them to parks or other secluded or deserted sites. He threatened them with what they believed to be a gun and forced them to disrobe and perform oral sex before raping them.

Five women have testified in the trial, which began last week in the 372nd District Court and is expected to continue through this week.

In 2008, a national DNA database check showed that the same man was responsible for a 2000 case and for a 2008 case at Veterans Park in Arlington. But the rapist still could not be identified, according to testimony.

The cases weren't linked until after the assaults April 21, 2009, in Veterans and Cobb parks.

A Fort Worth police officer recognized a woman's description of her attacker, and Rhodes was soon arrested. His DNA was later matched to that of the first two women, according to testimony. Several other women picked Rhodes out of a photo lineup, a Fort Worth detective testified Tuesday.

Prosecutors Betty Arvin and Sheila Wynn said they plan to introduce a videotaped statement by Rhodes in which he told police that the sex between him and the women was consensual.

Defense attorney Pamela Fernandez said that's her defense, that Rhodes did not rape the women.

Martha Deller,

817-390-7857

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