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Sexual assault cases renew D.C. DYRS issues

1 ward arrested in 2 attacks, 1 pleads guilty in other

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A 19-year-old arrested Friday in connection with the violent sexual assault of two women within the same week and another youth due to be sentenced this month in a similar crime are both wards of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), according to multiple sources at the agency.

The focus on sex crimes by the two youths presents the latest challenge to an agency that, in the past five years, has placed more than 50 medium- to high-risk youths in communities where they have either been killed or been convicted in a killing. They also occur as DYRS officials contend with the resignation or forced termination in recent months of at least a dozen high-level and veteran employees of the troubled agency, led by Director Neil Stanley, who was appointed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray in 2011 over the unanimous objection of the labor unions that represent DYRS workers.

Last Friday, Demarco Myles of Northwest Washington was accused in the Oct. 26 assault of a woman who suffered multiple stab wounds to the face, head and body, according to a police affidavit, which states he forced his way into her apartment and then led her into a bathroom at knifepoint, where she was assaulted.

After resisting, the victim suffered multiple stab wounds that cut to the bone, severe bruising and vision impairment, the affidavit states, and she was admitted to a hospital intensive care unit in serious condition.

A week later, on Nov. 2, according to another police affidavit, Mr. Myles entered the dormitory room of a female student at Howard University and began to masturbate, later brandishing a set of brass knuckles with a blade attached and slapping her in the face, forcing her to her stomach, and raping her.

Mr. Myles is being held without bond, according to court records, which state he is charged with intent to commit first-degree sexual assault and intent to kill while armed with a knife for the first attack and first-degree sexual assault by force while armed with a knife for the second. One of his victims remains hospitalized, according to news reports.

Calls to a cellphone that according to court records belongs to his mother, Sharnita Myles, and a separate call to his lawyer, public defender Liyah Brown, were not returned.

Multiple sources at DYRS said that since news reports first surfaced in The Washington Post and other local outlets, the agency has restricted access to Mr. Myles' records, as it reportedly does when any youths committed to its custody are arrested or charged with a crime.

In a separate case, another DYRS ward, Brian Jamal Ford, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 16 for attempted first-degree sexual abuse while armed with a gun. Although sources at the agency had less insight into the Ford case and the complete court file was not available at press time, a review of the D.C. Superior Court docket shows he waived indictment and pleaded guilty Aug. 22 and was ordered by the court to stay away from the victim.

His attorney, public defender Eugene K. Ohm, did not return a call for comment.

DYRS officials did not respond to questions sent by email about either Mr. Myles or Ford.

News reports have quoted Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier as saying authorities were motivated, at least in the Myles case, by the belief that he would have continued to attack other women.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, who chairs the committee that oversees DYRS, did not respond to questions sent by email.

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