The man charged with raping a woman inside the bathroom of a Seattle car dealership pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
Christopher Teel, 24, is accused of attacking a woman inside a temporary restroom at the Carter Volkswagen dealership on Leary Way NW in the Ballard neighborhood.
Probable cause documents state the victim, 40, went inside a restroom and locked the middle stall door. The report says she heard someone come in and then Teel, 24, allegedly forced his way into the stall. Police say he grabbed the woman, forced her to the ground, and raped her.
The woman screamed and Teel allegedly began choking her to make her stop, according to police. An employee using the men's bathroom next door heard this. He and another employee could not, however, get inside the women's bathroom because it had been locked.
The alleged attacker heard the employees trying to get in and backed away from the woman, police said. That allowed the woman to unlock the door. The employees came in and restrained the suspect until police arrived.
"Just the fact that they responded so quickly, that they had the wherewithal to look for her instead of just leaving her – I'm incredibly proud," said Jennifer Moran, Carter Motors executive manager.
Police say Teel admitted he went into the bathroom to have sex with the woman and admitted to locking the door.
The woman was taken to the hospital to undergo a rape examination.
Police also say that when Teel was being interviewed at police headquarters, he head-butted a detective who offered him water. Police believe Teel is homeless.
Teel was arrested on investigation of rape, assault, and unlawful imprisonment. He was charged with rape in the first degree and unlawful imprisonment.
Moran said safety has been a constant conversation at their Ballard location for some time now.
"I think it's a problem, and we deal with it every day," she said.
The dealership currently has restrooms with exterior access as it undergoes renovations.
Erika Nagy lives nearby and works with several groups petitioning the city to address homelessness in Ballard.
"I've very frustrated," she said.
She recently added her name to a petition on the same topic, which claims "homelessness had led to a serious deterioration of health and safety for everyone in our neighborhoods."
"The narrative of the homeless crisis that [councilman] Mike O'Brien and his city council continue to tell is leaving out a very important component of the story: the absolutely criminal activity that's taking place," she said.
She said in light of the rape investigation, she hopes city officials reconsider their policies in Ballard.
Moran said they'll keep asking for the same thing she believes many Ballard businesses want.
"I don't think the messaging changes," she said. "It stays the same. We need change immediately."
KING 5 reached out to O'Brien's office for comment, and his staff sent the following statement.
“My office was in touch with SPD earlier today upon learning about this violent attack. The accounts are devastating, and my heart goes out to the survivor of this terrible crime. The full force of the law should be brought upon the perpetrator. I am grateful to the individuals who risked their own safety to come to her aid. While the Council is not a part of the SPD’s chain of command, I have asked them to keep me informed as they gather more information about the incident.”