A gunman is accused of targeting ‘bears’ he met on gay dating apps for theft and rape.
The man from Kent, an outlying suburb of Seattle, is accused of having gone on a days-long violent crime spree and is now in jail on seven felony charges, reports Seattle Pi.
The most serious allegation against Laverne Lee Maxwell, aged 32, dates from 7 April.
Maxwell is accused of meeting a man on the GROWLr smartphone app for gay bears, holding him at gunpoint and raping him. He also stole several items from the man’s house in Seattle.
Charging papers say the gunman also robbed several other men he met on GROWLr.
Maxwell is said to have met another man on the SCRUFF app who he also held at gunpoint and robbed of his iPhone.
The charging papers further allege he used a phone belonging to the mother of his two-year-old child to contact the men.
Maxwell, an 11-time felon, denies raping the men, robbing them or using a gun but maintains they had consensual sex.
He is accused of first-degree rape, three counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of unlawful gun possession and one count of first-degree burglary.
He remains jailed on $750,000 (â‚¬574,000) bail. He is expected to appear on 6 May at King County Superior Court at Seattle.
GSN has contacted GROWLr and SCRUFF apps to offer them the chance to comment and is awaiting a response.
UPDATE: SCRUFF and GROWLr have now contacted GSN in response to the incident.
Coley Cummiskey, CEO of GROWLr, said he was contacted by detectives about this case and helped them with their inquiries.
He told GSN: ‘I have just put out a general announcement to all our members to say have fun but stay safe.
‘We suggest when you do meet up to do so with a friend and in a very public place. Our members’ safety is very important to us and we don’t want anything to happen to them but using common sense seems the most important thing.’
SCRUFF founders Eric Silverberg and Johnny Skadros said in a statement: ‘SCRUFF is one of the largest social dating apps on iOS and Android, used by millions of gay men around the world. We have numerous measures in our app to enable our members to report other profiles for inappropriate or irregular behavior. We additionally have a full-time support team to handle customer issues and reports, and we review reported profiles on a daily basis.
‘We take reports of harassment, threats and other illegal activity very seriously, and cooperate with local law enforcement to ensure swift and proper prosecution of such cases. Ultimately, we encourage all of our members to be safe and smart when meeting one another in person for the first time when using any social media app or website.
‘To date, SCRUFF has not been contacted by any law enforcement officials regarding this case.’