Ryan "RaRah" Stevenson, a longtime, award-winning contributing photographer for City Paper, is awaiting a criminal jury trial scheduled for July on charges that he raped his 14-year-old daughter at his home last Christmas Eve. The initial charging document, obtained from the court file after City Paper recently learned of the allegations, was sworn out by Baltimore Police child-abuse detective Lakiea Jones on Dec. 29 and states that the daughter also accuses Stevenson of raping her "several times" since the first occurrence, when she was 8 years old, though Stevenson's charges arise only from the alleged Dec. 24 incident.
Stevenson, 38, was initially charged on Jan. 3 in Baltimore City District Court with first- and second-degree rape, third- and fourth-degree sex offense, and second-degree assault, court records show, and an arrest warrant was served on Jan. 3. He remained in detention until making bail on March 19, after the case had been moved to circuit court, where he stands charged with second-degree rape, third- and fourth-degree sex offense, second-degree assault, and sexual abuse of a minor.
The trial is currently scheduled to begin on July 22, and if convicted of the most serious charges, Stevenson faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for second-degree rape, and up to the 25-year maximum for sexual abuse of a minor.
Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office spokesperson Mark Cheshire declined to comment about the case against Stevenson, who did not respond to an email asking for comment. Stevenson's attorney, John Markus of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, issued a written statement on his behalf: "Mr. Stevenson has pled not guilty in court, and will continue to assert his innocence. I am in the early stages of investigating this case, so any other comments would be premature, but certainly the public should be mindful that false allegations in cases such as this are not unusual."
Official reports of the alleged rape were first made by the daughter's mother, Etzy Salazar, to Mongtomery County Child Protective Services (CPS) on Dec. 28, the day the daughter first raised the accusations, according to court records. They were immediately communicated to Baltimore City CPS, detective Jones, and the Baltimore Child Abuse Center (BCAC) "for a forensic interview," according to court records. City Paper is withholding the daughter's name, though it is included in the case file.
Jones' statement of charges detail the daughter's accusations, based on an interview with BCAC. She "went to Mr. Stevenson's house" to "visit him for Christmas," the document states, and "was in Mr. Stevenson's room located in the basement of the house laying on the bed" and "watching television when she fell asleep." She then "felt him touching her around her waist," after which he "took her pants off and put his penis inside of her." She "felt him put 'it' in her private part and her private part was hurting," and "she didn't say anything to him because she just felt confused and wondering why he was raping her," the document states.
When Stevenson "was done," the document continues, "he got up and walked across the room," then "walked upstairs to the first floor." After he "walked back down to the basement," he told her "to get off the bed and go upstairs to sleep on the couch," which she did. "They never talked about what happened," the document states, and "were the only two in the house because [Stevenson's] girlfriend had left the house to go to the store."
The daughter also "proceeded to say that he raped her more than once and the first time is when she was 8 years old," the document states, when "he was living near the Washington Monument near Charles St." While "she can't remember all the details," the document continues, "he raped her several times" in the past.
Listed as state's witnesses in the case are Stevenson's daughter, Salazar, Shannon Wood of BCAC, and Marsha Utz, a forensic nurse examiner at Mercy Hospital, according to court filings by assistant state's attorney Amy Helbig, who is prosecuting the case.
Stevenson has no prior criminal convictions, according to online court records, though since the 1990s he's been engaged in various court proceedings regarding child-support issues involving people other than Salazar, whose only case against Stevenson-a still-open custody proceeding-was brought shortly after the rape charges were filed.
Stevenson's photography for City Paper, where he first started shooting in the early 2000s, has earned national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013. He's also been a digital-photography instructor for the Creative Alliance, and his work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, DC magazine, Urbanite, XXL, and Beautiful Decay.