Dennis Edison met victim through online couch surfing websiteMINEOLA, N.Y. –Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Long Beach man was sentenced today to 10 years in prison plus 20 years post-release supervision for the 2015 rape of a European tourist that was staying in his apartment.
Dennis Edison, 32, was found guilty by Supreme Court Justice Robert McDonald on August 19 of rape in the first degree (a B violent felony) and sexual abuse in the first degree (a D violent felony). The trial started on August 8 and concluded on August 19.
“This defendant drugged and raped an unsuspecting tourist who he lured to his apartment through couchsurfing.com,” DA Singas said. “She bravely reported the incident and thanks to the outstanding work of the Long Beach Police Department and our prosecutors, this predator will be held accountable. While many report great experiences with couch surfing sites, it’s important to remember that these completely unregulated websites come with significant risks to those who use them.”
“This was a terrific job by Long Beach Det. Jose Miguez and ADA Emma Slane, they worked extremely hard to get this conviction which involved a victim living in Europe. Their quick action in the initial stages of the investigation and the quick empaneling of a Grand Jury took this menace off the streets before the victim went back home and he has been in custody since and will remain in custody for a long time to come. I thank District Attorney Singas for her ongoing commitment to protecting the residents of Long Beach, and Nassau County from criminals that would otherwise jeopardize our quality of life,” said Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney.
DA Singas said that on November 24, 2015, two female German tourists arrived at Edison’s Long Beach apartment. The women, both 21 years of age at the time, met Edison through couchsurfing.com and planned on spending several days at his home.
There was nothing that raised the women’s suspicions the first night of their stay. The next day, Edison gave the two women cocktails he had prepared. Both women described a feeling of detachment and that their movements felt labored, like “a robot”, after drinking the cocktails.
Edison then gave the victim a different drink while her friend fell asleep. The victim became disassociated from her surroundings and was led to a massage table in Edison’s bedroom. The victim was incapacitated and became unconscious. Forensic evidence confirmed that the unconscious woman was raped by Edison, who initially denied having sexual contact with her in a recorded conversation.
The women left Edison’s apartment after becoming violently ill and reported the crime in Manhattan. The NYPD contacted the Long Beach Police Department who met the victim at Mount Sinai hospital. Detectives investigated the case and arrested Edison on December 22, 2015 after he was indicted by a Nassau County Grand Jury. The defendant was charged with rape in the first degree (130.35 Section 2), which is defined as: A person is guilty of rape in the first degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person: Who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless and sexual abuse in the first degree.
Circumstantial evidence supported the prosecution’s theory that the defendant drugged the drinks of the victim. Elizabeth Spratt, Director of Toxicology at the Westchester County Department of Labs and Research, testified at trial that the physical disassociation, pain and vomiting are consistent with ingesting gamma-hydroxybutyrate, commonly known as GHB or the “date rape” drug. GHB is an odorless, colorless drug that may be combined with alcohol and given to unsuspecting victims prior to sexual assaults.
Drug-rape cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute because the victim doesn’t have any memory of the crime and because drugs like GHB dissipate quickly from the blood and are therefore untraceable.
The defendant was convicted on August 19 by the Honorable Robert McDonald. Edison waived his right to a trial by jury.
Assistant District Attorney Emma Slane of DA Singas’ Special Victims Bureau prosecuted the case. Edison is represented by Aaron Goldsmith, Esq.
Tips to follow if you plan on using a ‘couch surfing’ site:• Carefully check the profiles and reviews of potential hosts before you book and ask for references.
• Read everything the host has posted about their listing.• Set clear expectations with your host and trust your intuition – if you don’t feel right about a reservation don’t book it.
• In an emergency situation, of if you feel your personal safety is threatened, contact local police or emergency services immediately.