Will man accused of raping two young girls be let out of jail? Hearing Tuesday
WANTAGE — The man accused of breaking into a township home and raping two children in their bedroom will appear for a detention hearing Tuesday.
Craig Lassiter, 33, is facing more than a dozen charges in the incident, which allegedly took place the early morning hours of Sept. 18. In the hearing Tuesday, a judge will determined if he's to be released from jail until his trial, and under what conditions if so.
According to police, troopers were called to a home just after 2 a.m. for a reported burglary. Troopers at that time said they had attempted to stop a Chevrolet Silverado with New York plates. State police said the driver, later identified as Lassiter, was able to get away by driving around a patrol car and over a mailbox. The truck — which police say was stolen — was later found abandoned in a field.
Police say after entering the house, Lassiter went to the room where the children were, threatened them, said he had a gun, and sexually assaulted them.
After the children told family what had happened, family members found the front door open, according to police.
Four days later, Lassiter was arrested in New York after a joint investigation by the New Jersey State Police Fugitive Unit, the New York State police, the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments, and the Middletown City Police Department in New York. He was extradited to New Jersey and held at the Sussex County Jail.
Authorities haven't said how he was located or described the circumstances of the arrest itself.
Among the more serious charges Lassiter Faces are first-degree aggravated sexual assault of a minor less than 13 years old, two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault during the commission of a robbery and burglary, and first-degree robbery while threatening to use a deadly weapon.
Lassiter's arrest is in many ways reminiscent of another incident last month when, police say, native Guatemalan Edgar Mendoza broke into a Trenton home and sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl. Mendoza was found in the girl's bed with her by her father before jumping out of the bedroom window and escaping.
At a detention hearing Friday, a judge held Mendoza — who is in the country illegally — in jail until his trial.
“Due to my situation here, the fact that I don’t have my papers and the fact that I am facing those charges, I think I am going to have to be detained,” the Trentonian quoted Mendoza saying.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com