Man charged in rape, robbery had just been released from jail

Posted: March 08, 2013

RAFIQ SMITH was a neighborhood nuisance with a long criminal history, arrested for everything from loitering and shoplifting to robbery and even rape.

In most cases, he got off, as frustrated prosecutors often withdrew charges when witnesses failed to show up in court.

On Tuesday, he beat another case, walking free from a city jail after a robbery victim - a man Smith allegedly ordered to strip at simulated gunpoint at Broad and Locust before stealing his clothes, cash and cellphone - failed to come to court, too.

Smith apparently followed his release with another crime: He robbed and raped a woman in an underground city concourse on Wednesday night, police said.

Early Thursday, a SEPTA police officer spotted Smith in a concourse just a few blocks from where a 54-year-old woman told police he'd dragged her into a dark tunnel, raped her and stole her cellphone and $87 in cash.

Smith, 42, still had the victim's belongings when he was nabbed, police said. He was charged with rape, robbery and related offenses. He was being held on $250,000 bail and faces a preliminary hearing March 21.

The woman had left a restaurant at 9th and Walnut streets and tried to catch a train about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on the Frankford-Market Line at 15th and Market streets, SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said.

But a SEPTA cashier denied her entry to the subway platform for an unknown reason, Williams said. SEPTA cops and cashiers are permitted to bar would-be passengers from train platforms for safety reasons if they appear to be inebriated, and surveillance video shows the woman walking unsteadily with a man supporting her, Williams added.

Cameras caught the pair then walking through the underground concourse toward Suburban Station, Williams said.

Just before midnight, the woman approached a SEPTA cop at 12th and Market and reported she'd been attacked in a tunnel near stairs, Williams said. Authorities haven't pinpointed the location of the alleged attack.

Minutes later, a SEPTA officer discovered a suspect matching the victim's description in the concourse between Walnut and Locust streets, Williams said. Police said the victim didn't know her attacker, who was the man seen on surveillance video supporting her as she tried to catch a train.

Court records show that Smith has been arrested about 15 times in the city over the past 20 years, including three Center City street robberies - at Broad and Lombard in 2001, at 13th and Locust in 2006, and at Broad and Locust in November.

In a previous rape case, he allegedly entered a woman's house at 13th and Spruce in September 2010 and sexually assaulted her, court records show. Prosecutors withdrew those charges when the woman didn't show up in court.

In prior cases, Smith was listed as homeless, but police say he lives on Ogontz Avenue near Olney in East Germantown.

On Twitter: @DanaDiFilippo


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