City News

MPD arrests suspect in stranger sexual assault, chief hails surveillance as the key

Madison police arrested a suspect Thursday connected with a sexual assault that occurred near Tenney Park earlier this month. 

Image By: Photo by Max Bayer

Madison police arrested a suspect Thursday connected to the sexual assault of a 24-year-old on East Johnson Street that occurred earlier this month.

The suspect, 28-year-old Dorian Wade, was arrested inside an apartment on Flower Lane on the city’s west side. After failing to persuade the suspect to leave the property and surrender to authorities, a SWAT unit pushed in the door and arrested Wade without incident. No shots were fired during the arrest.

The sexual assault occurred in the early morning of April 7 when a woman, who police identified as a graduate student at UW-Madison, was walking home from the downtown area when a stranger pushed her into nearby bushes and assaulted her. A car pulled in close to where the crime occurred, which caused the suspect to flee.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval credited city surveillance cameras as the main reason why the department was able to locate a person of interest so quickly.

“But for surveillance cameras put out in public spaces, we wouldn’t be having this conversation here today,” Koval said.

Koval acknowledged the use of public surveillance has drawn criticism and members of the city fear that their privacy will be infringed. However, he said the use of the tactic is not for “voyeurism” or “invasions of privacy.”

“They’re going to be used as they were intended to be used from our standpoint as a critical tool in a modern-day era where any public place, any public space, is subject to our monitoring and it’s for these reasons that I’m here taking on this part of the investigation,” he said.

The downtown cameras provided evidence of a car following the victim home the night of the crime and by combining that footage with images of cars located in downtown-area parking garages, investigators were able to identify a license plate number of the vehicle.

Through that research, officials managed to find a name and image of the suspect, who became a person of interest. By working with the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory, DNA found at the scene of the crime was compared to DNA of the suspect already on file and a match was found.

Wade has been arrested numerous times prior to Thursday for crimes including theft, operating a vehicle while impaired and driving on a revoked license.

He was a member of the department’s focused deterrence program, which is overseen by the city’s Special Investigations Unit. The program provides individuals who commit a disproportionate amount of crime support, such as housing and job training so that they may be able to discontinue their behavior.

The catch, Koval said, is if the individual continues to commit crimes, it will be recommended that prosecutors will seek the highest penalty process in court.

“We have an insidious crime of the worst kind when you’re talking about sexual assault and the community is put at great fear, particularly in those instances where there is a stranger sexual assault,” Koval said.

He added that those crimes send a riptide through the community.

As for the future of surveillance in Madison, Koval believes this is evidence the city needs to invest more in the practice.

“I think that those who are constantly assailing the sense of privacy issues have to understand that this is a brave new world we’re in,” he said. “The terms of engagement are such that what you do, how you comport yourself in public, has never been protected by the Fourth Amendment.”

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