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DNA convicts St. Albans teen in online rendezvous rape case

TimesLedger Newspapers

Prosecutors were able to use DNA evidence to convict a St. Albans teenager last week of raping a 21-year-old woman whom he met on the controversial adult-services directory website backpage.com inside a vacant neighborhood house in 2010, according to the Queens district attorney.

Dominicio Fuhrtz, 19, face up to 25 years in prison after he was convicted Oct. 10 of first-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act following a 10-day jury trial, District Attorney Richard Brown said. Judge Barry Kron set sentencing for Oct. 29.

Brown said that according to the trial testimony, the then-17-year-old Fuhrtz met his victim in 2010 on backpage.com and arranged to meet her at a vacant home a block away from where he lived.

Once inside, the DA said, Fuhrtz pulled out a gun and forcibly raped his victim, leaving behind a used condom from which investigators were able to obtain a DNA sample. The young woman shared information of the attack with friends who also advertise on the site, and Fuhrtz was arrested in a sting operation in June 2010 when he attempted to arrange a meeting with another woman, according to Brown.

The district attorney said his office’s Special Victims Bureau was able to match both Fuhrtz’s and his victim’s DNA on the condom found at the scene.

“This case once again underscores the effectiveness of DNA as a tool of law enforcement,” he said. “This defendant is a violent predator who should receive a substantial prison sentence in order to punish him and protect society.”

Sex advertisement listings such as backpage.com and its ilk — which often operate under the guise of offering massage or escort services — have drawn public scrutiny. Critics say that in addition to illegal prostitution, these ads are the prime tool for sex traffickers forcing women into sex work.

In 2010, craigslist.org shuttered its adult section under pressure from anti-trafficking activists, who said much of the business then moved onto backpage.com., which is owned by Village Voice Media.

In September, Village Voice Media sold its namesake newspaper and 12 other alternative weeklies it owns across the nation to Voice Media Group, but retained backpage.com

First Amendment supporters defend the advertising practices as a constitutional right.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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