A Clark County Superior Court judge set bail at $500,000 for a Vancouver man accused of entering two women’s apartments last week and groping them while they slept.
Benjamin Jerome White Jr., 21, made a first appearance Friday via Zoom.
Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Smith called the allegations “highly concerning” and a “huge risk” to community safety.
White reportedly has juvenile criminal history, including second-degree trespass, indecent exposure, second-degree burglary and being a minor in possession of intoxicants. He may also have a criminal history in Texas, Smith said, but the prosecution was unable to confirm that before Friday’s hearing.
She said the state anticipates filing two counts of first-degree burglary with sexual motivation, one count of indecent liberties without forcible compulsion and two counts of indecent liberties with forcible compulsion.
He is scheduled to be arraigned June 18.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, a man, later identified by police as White, entered a residence in the 13600 block of Southeast Eastridge Drive around 3:40 a.m. June 3. He reportedly entered through an open slider door.
The victim said she awoke to someone touching her and thought it was her boyfriend. She started screaming when she realized it was a stranger, and he put his gloved hand over her mouth, the affidavit says.
She fought back and pulled off the assailant’s face covering, and he ran out the slider door, court records state.
The victim said the burglar stole at least five packs of cigarettes from her residence, according to the affidavit.
The following night, two women reported that around 1:15 a.m a man entered their residence in the 700 block of Southeast 139th Avenue.
One of the women said she saw him standing at her bedroom slider door masturbating. The man then walked to the open, living room slider door. She confronted him, but he entered the residence and followed her to a bedroom, where he pushed her down and groped her, the affidavit says.
The other woman awoke, and they threatened him with a lamp, hit him and forced him out of the residence. During the struggle, the assailant groped that woman, too, she said, according to court records.
Police sent the mask, pulled from the intruder the first night, to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for testing. The crime lab found the DNA on the mask matched White’s, the affidavit states.
White was arrested at his Vancouver apartment Thursday. He allegedly told police he entered the first residence to steal cigarettes, and he groped the woman who lives there. He also allegedly said he entered the second residence but did not admit to assaulting either woman there, according to the affidavit.