AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin Fire Department lieutenant is on paid leave while he is under criminal investigation, after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her in March.
Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr did not release details regarding the investigation when KXAN contacted her, but says Lt. Marcus Reed, an arson investigator, has not been charged with or arrested for any crime. “I will reserve judgment unless and until I need to do otherwise, and I would hope others do the same,” said Kerr in a statement.
According to a series of search warrants, on Sept. 1, Austin police detectives were called to SAFE Place where a woman told investigators she was raped by a man who investigators believe is Lt. Reed. The woman told investigators she was stopped in the middle of the Interstate 35 frontage road at E. St. Elmo Road after she got into an argument with her friend inside the car. The friend, the woman said, took the car keys and got out of the car.
While she was stopped in the road, the woman said a truck pulled up behind her with flashing lights. The woman described the truck as a “taco truck” because of the covered box on the back. The man inside got out and the woman told investigators she believed him to be a police officer because of his uniform, utility belt and badge. She said the officer was looking at documents in her car, relating to current criminal charges pending against her, and writing notes.
“She advised that she was nervous and that the officer was insinuating that she was a prostitute and she told him she was not,” according to the search warrant. “She explained that she was telling him that she was nervous because she was trying to follow her pre-trial conditions and didn’t want to be in trouble.”
The woman said he told her to get into his truck and then he drove her to a parking lot where he sexually assaulted her, according to the warrant. She told the detective “she felt compelled to comply with him because he was an ‘officer’ in uniform and because of her legal situation.”
The pair eventually ended up in a parking lot of 4401 Freidrich Ln., which is less than a half mile from where the woman’s car was parked. The woman told investigators Reed told her she was “going to help me relax” and that she was going to need a “miracle,” which she believed was a reference to her troubles related to her previous criminal charges.
While in the parking lot, the woman said Reed “told her to perform oral sex on him.” During that act, the woman said Reed ordered her to “turn the **** around” and he proceeded to further sexually assault her, the affidavit states.”While this was occurring she said that she felt something on her back and that she kept imagining it was a gun,” the investigator wrote in the affidavit.
The search warrant states Lt. Reed matched the description of that man and he was also in the area completing an investigation right before the sexual assault allegedly happened. Investigators used a set of photographs with men matching Reed’s facial features and the woman was able to pick Reed’s photograph out of the line up with “ninety nine percent certainty,” according to the affidavit.
Within hours of the March 2 alleged assault, investigators said Reed logged onto the Austin Police Department’s secured reporting database and searched the victim’s “information contained in this database several times,” according to the affidavit. Investigators said they confirmed it was Reed performing the searches because the system can only be accessed using a unique username and password.
On Sept. 7 an APD detective executed a search warrant at Reed’s workplace and seized six thumb drives, an external hard drive and notebooks. The detective also had a warrant to search the AFD on Ed Bluenstein and obtained DNA samples from Lt. Reed.
On Sept. 14, APD turned in the search warrants, listing items collected during the investigation. Those items included Reed’s DNA obtained from a mouth swab, hair samples, computer drives, written notes, floor mats and carpet cut from his AFD-issued truck, and a camera.
Reed has been with the department for 20 years.
Attempts by KXAN to reach Reed were unsuccessful. We do not know whether Reed has hired an attorney.