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Charges dropped against security guard accused of rape, impersonating an officer

Posted at 2:32 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 17:59:45-04

BALTIMORE — The charges have been dropped against the security guard who was accused of impersonating a police officer and raping a woman in Charles Village in early June.

Richard Barnes, 50, was charged with rape, assault, and impersonating a police officer. He had been held without bail prior to trial. At a hearing in Baltimore Wednesday, prosecutors said the grand jury refused to indict Barnes.

"I don’t believe the charges should have ever been brought in the first place," Barnes' attorney James Rhodes said after the hearing. Rhodes said Barnes would be released within hours after processing was completed.

The original accusations set off an internal investigation by police, as the woman who alleged had been rape said she thought the act was committed by a police officer. Baltimore Police pulled 115 patrol cars off the street, as the woman said she was abducted by a police officer and taken to a different location, where she was raped. Police slowly returned all those cars to service as it was determined no police officer was involved in the alleged crime.

Police continued investigating, honing in on Barnes as their suspect. Barnes worked as a security guard for the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. In that role he wore a uniform that looked similar to a police uniform.

"I understand that is job has terminated his employment with them at the University of Maryland at this point," Rhodes said. "I don't know whether he's able to get that employment back. The stigma of sexual allegation such as this one, it probably will carry for the rest of his life."

Charging documents in the case said the victim was picked up by a Lyft driver who himself may have sexually assaulted the alleged victim, though no charges have been filed against him. The documents said the driver was taking the victim to the Charles Village Pub when he pulled over in the 2700 block of Lovegrove Road and continued sexually assaulting her when Barnes allegedly pulled up behind the car and ordered the victim out. She then said she got into his car, assuming he was a police officer, and was then driven to another location where she was raped.

Police used surveillance footage from the area to identify the car described by the alleged victim, cross referencing that with motor vehicle information to determine Barnes’ vehicle was seen at the location of the alleged crime.

At his bail review hearing, prosecutors said Barnes had previously faced charges of impersonating a police officer.

"This clearly was a case where a young lady made some decisions that she later regretted," Rhodes said, "and for whatever reason chose to make up a story about a rape and sexual allegations that occurred with two different men."

Melba E. Saunders from the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City released a statement on the case.

“The Baltimore Police Department appropriately pursued charges against Mr. Barnes based on the belief that there was sufficient evidence to do so; however, the grand jury reviewed that same evidence and chose not to indict the defendant, which required that we dismiss the case. We respect the grand jury’s decision as a part of the criminal justice process.”