Policeman accused of raping a woman while on duty
By BRIAN ROGERS and JAMES PINKERTON
Jan. 29, 2011, 12:50AM
The prosecutor said he fears HPD officer Abraham Joseph, 27, will flee to India or seek asylum at the Indian embassy.
A judge on Friday lowered the bail for a Houston police officer accused of sexually assaulting a woman while on duty and implicated in five other possible cases, disappointing advocates of the other alleged victims.
State District Judge Denise Collins lowered the bail from $500,000 to $150,000 for Abraham Joseph after tearful testimony from Joseph’s wife, who is eight months pregnant, saying the family doesn’t have any money.
“We don’t have $50,000 or $500,000 in collateral,” Jomy Joseph testified. The 26-year-old cried as she described the couple’s meager savings. She said she has no plans to return to her native India or leave her husband.
In addition to a $50,000 fee, the family would have had to provide $500,000 in collateral to bail out Abraham Joseph.
Katrina Patrick is an attorney involved in a civil suit against the officer. Patrick said other women accusing Joseph of attacking them are concerned for their safety.
“I find it terribly, terribly alarming that Joseph’s bond was reduced today, especially in light of the fact that we are seeing more and more victims coming forward,” Patrick said.
“This is a guy who has done some horrendous acts against the community, and he deserves to be behind bars,” she added. “I think this is going to alarm a lot of the victims. A lot of their … solace comes from the fact this guy is behind bars.”
Benjamin Hall represents the woman Joseph is charged with raping and two other possible victims. He said he worries the former officer may be released.
“He’s got a constitutional right to have a reasonable bond, but we’re just going to make sure he has no contact with our clients,” Hall said.
Joseph, 27, was indicted last week on charges of aggravated sexual assault. The charges stem from an alleged attack on Jan. 2 in which Joseph is accused of handcuffing a cantina waitress outside of the bar, driving her to a secluded area, and raping her on the trunk of his police car, according to a civil lawsuit filed by the woman.
He was relieved of duty by HPD officials later that day. Prosecutors argued Friday that Joseph is a suspect in five other cases involving four other women.
Earlier this week, Collins kept Joseph’s bail at $500,000 after hearing he has four passports, including one from India.
Those passports, except for one that was lost, were turned over to authorities. The judge granted “no contact” orders prohibiting Joseph or his family from communicating with the alleged victims.
In court, Assistant Harris County District Attorney Eric Bily said he fears Joseph will flee to India, where he was born, or seek asylum at the Indian embassy in Houston. His wife, a registered nurse, testified that she also is from India. The two were married there in 2007. Joseph left India when he was 12 and is a naturalized citizen. He grew up in New York City, where he was a police officer for 18 months beginning in January 2007.
Joseph’s defense attorney, Nicole DeBorde, said she does not know if Joseph can post the lowered bond. She said Joseph maintains his innocence.
If he is freed on bail, he will be subject to house arrest. He’ll have to wear a GPS monitor for the aggravated sexual assault charges.