Air Marshal Accused of Rape at Gunpoint
(CBS) A U.S. federal air marshal was arrested Saturday, accused of raping a woman at gunpoint inside a Seattle hotel room while on a layover for his job.
Lecheton “Omar” Settles, 30, has been charged with rape in the first degree and is being held at the King County jail with bail set at $250,000.
“We are shocked that a law enforcement officer would be accused of a crime this serious,” said King County Sheriff spokesperson Sgt. John Urquhart.
According to court documents, a 24-year-old female escort told police Settles contacted her Friday around 11 p.m. through the website Backpage.com. She agreed to come to his room on the fifth floor at the Marriott hotel located across the street from the Sea-Tac Airport to perform a private “show” which would include a back massage and a dance in lingerie for the cost of $180.
The woman claims Settles was fully dressed when she arrived but after coming out of the bathroom, where she had changed into her “outfit,” she alleges Settles was standing completely naked with his government issued air marshal badge hanging from his neck and a gun in one hand. He then, allegedly, said “U.S. Marshal, you have to do what I tell you.” The woman told police she began to cry and Settles instructed her to get on the bed where he held her down, pushing on her chest, as he raped her for about 10 minutes, wearing a condom, with the gun next to her on the bed.
Afterwards, the woman says Settles told her to put her clothes back on and give him back the $180. She says he then put a handcuff on her and made a phone call to his “sergeant.” She heard him say on the phone, “OK, you want me to let this one go?” He then let her leave.
Settles was arrested that same night by local police after the woman called 911 to report the incident.
When he was questioned by detectives, Settles denied having any sexual contact with the woman. After police informed him that the woman described how his private parts were completely shaved, Settles still maintained there was no sexual contact, but said that at one point his pants were down. He also admitted wearing his air marshal badge around his neck but said he never took out his gun because, he said, it’s against air marshal policy to use a firearm after “drinking alcohol.”
Air marshals are armed federal law enforcement agents, part of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), who fly around on various domestic and international airplane flights undercover, blending in with passengers, ready to protect the public against a terrorist attack.
In February, a CBS News exclusive investigation by Armen Keteyian revealed that the Federal Air Marshal Service is an agency plagued with internal personnel problems.
Settles, who lives in Virginia, had flown to Seattle and was staying overnight at the hotel as part of his job representing the United States government.
Sgt. John Urquhart told CBS News Settles was scheduled to depart Seattle early Saturday morning. He was working alongside another air marshal who Sgt. John Urquhart said was staying at another hotel and had no role in the incident.
In a statement, the TSA said the agency “holds all of its employees to the highest professional standards” and Settles was a probationary employee who was immediately terminated for the “misconduct.” Settles is scheduled to be arraigned April 28.