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Trial Begins in Rape Case that Outraged Residents

Oct. 25, 2004 – The jury trial of a man accused of kidnapping and raping a woman and then cutting her throat at her home in St. Thomas, started Monday in Territorial Court.
Prosecutors allege Michael Turbe, 20, broke into the woman's home on Feb. 27, 2003, and hid in her bathroom until she came home for lunch. He then allegedly raped her at knifepoint and demanded she call a colleague to bring cash to the house, prosecutors said.
When the friend dropped off $1,000 and left, Turbe allegedly cut his victim's throat, stabbed her at least 18 times and fled in her car with the money. The woman survived the incident and identified Turbe as her assailant. Police arrested him later that day.
The incident sparked a massive outpouring of outrage in St. Thomas, where community leaders called for an end to an epidemic of rapes and assaults, especially by repeat offenders. (See "Friends Of Victim Share Solidarity, Action Ideas").
Charges of assaulting an 11-year-old had been dropped against Turbe before the alleged rape. Iver Stridiron, then-attorney general, said about the case, "It was a vicious act by a sexual pervert [who] should have been put behind bars."
At a rally immediately after the incident, residents called for a show of support for the victim. Others talked about soliciting donations or holding a raffle to raise money for the victim — and for Family Resource Center, which in addition to the normal demands for its services also is struggling to fill the gap left by the demise of the Victim Advocates program.
According to one friend of the victim, she had never seen her assailant until the day before the attack, when he had approached her to help him with his car.
Judge Ive Swan is presiding over the case, where prosecutors presented 20 charges against Turbe, including attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, robbery, assault, car theft and burglary.
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