Man caught in brazen rape in Town Square Park, police say

Casey Grove
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News

An Anchorage man is charged with raping a drugged woman in broad daylight at a downtown park Tuesday, police say.

Someone flagged down an officer at Town Square Park about 6 p.m. after seeing a man, later identified as Earl Vrooman, having sex with an incapacitated 18-year-old woman, police said. The officer stopped the assault and arrested Vrooman, 42, who said the woman passed out after they smoked synthetic marijuana, police said.

According to police, the assault occurred on a bench on the northeast side of the park, which sits downtown between busy Fifth and Sixth avenues in front of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and near City Hall. It has a few trees and little other cover.

The officer, Mitch Kehr, reported that the woman's "eyes were open, but she was 100 percent unresponsive to any input," according to charges filed against Vrooman.

Vrooman, convicted in 2001 for sexual assault, is homeless, a state prosecutor said.

According to the charges, Vrooman told a detective that he'd just met the woman earlier that day and they were kissing at one point. According to the charges, Vrooman claimed she told him she was willing to get sexual if he could find her some Spice, one of many brand names for synthetic marijuana, which is illegal in Anchorage.

They walked to the park, where Vrooman's friend gave them some of the fake pot, he told the detective. They smoked about half a joint, and the woman "wasn't doing too well," Vrooman said, according to the charges.

That's when Vrooman put his hands down the woman's pants and started "messing around with her," the charges say. She appeared to be unconscious, and Vrooman said two men noticed what he was doing and beat him up for about five minutes before leaving, according to the charges.

But that was apparently not enough to stop him. When the men left, Vrooman started having intercourse with the incapacitated woman until the officer came along, the charges say.

Vrooman admitted to a detective later that the woman had not given him permission to have sex and said she was "half-dead" during the act.

"Vrooman asked me if she died," the detective wrote in the charges. "Vrooman said, 'She wasn't dead when I was having sex with her!' "

The detective interviewed the woman after she was treated at Alaska Native Medical Center. She said she was aware of what he was doing, that she didn't want to have sex, but was unable to speak or move to stop it, the charges say.

Police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker said there's no indication from the investigation so far that the two were drinking alcohol or taking any other drugs. Vrooman, his alleged victim and other witnesses reported the two had only smoked the synthetic marijuana, the police spokesman said.

"She went out like a light and he started sexually assaulting her," Parker said. "That's a pretty public place, especially in the afternoon like that."

Parker said the woman was released from the hospital after an examination and did not appear to have serious or lasting injuries from smoking Spice.

Vrooman was charged with second-degree sexual assault and ordered held on $15,000 bail.

During Vrooman's initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon at the Anchorage jail, another inmate in a waiting room apparently threatened Vrooman.

Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.

Anchorage Daily News