Brooklyn Center Man Charged in Separate Sexual Assaults Involving Juveniles, Vulnerable Adult

A Brooklyn Center man is facing several charges of sexual assault for separate incidents in two counties. One case involves alleged repeated sexual assaults on two juveniles, and the other case involves an alleged sexual assault and false imprisonment of a vulnerable adult woman.

Ben Wada Gbassie, Source_ Hennepin County Sheriff

Warning: This report contains details that some may find disturbing.

A Brooklyn Center man is facing several charges of sexual assault for separate incidents in two counties. One case involves alleged repeated sexual assaults on two juveniles, and the other case involves an alleged sexual assault and false imprisonment of a vulnerable adult woman.

Ben Wada Gbassie, 20, is named as the defendant in two separate criminal complaints that were filed in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties in November. The Ramsey County complaint outlines disturbing details involving repeated sexual assaults of two juveniles, both under age 7 at the time, that allegedly took place between July 2017 and November 2018. The Hennepin County complaint alleges that Gbassie and another juvenile accomplice lured a vulnerable adult woman from a transit station in Sept. 2018 and subsequently held her captive and sexually assaulted her. 

RAMSEY COUNTY

According to the Ramsey County complaint, Gbassie moved to Minnesota in June 2017 and was staying with a family – parents and two young girls – in St. Paul. The complaint alleges that Gbassie repeatedly coerced the two female children to perform oral sex on him and that he threatened each that he would kill them if they told anyone. The complaint indicates that the oldest child was about age 7 when the incidents began. The complaint does not detail how Gbassie and the family he was staying with were acquainted or specifically how long he lived with them.

The girls confided to their mother in Nov. 2018 that they had been sexually abused. In June 2019, the youngest girl, who the complaint said was age 7 at that time, told a therapist she had been sexually abused by Gbassie. The girl subsequently told another sexual assault interviewer that the incidents “happened regularly when others were asleep.” The older sister, who the complaint stated was age 9 then, said the incidents happened in the bathroom and laundry room and that she began limiting the amount of water she drank so she wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom as frequently.

In a post-Miranda interview with police in Aug. 2019, Gbassie denied touching the girls or engaging in sexual activity with them. Gbassie was charged by warrant on Nov. 25, 2019 in the case.

HENNEPIN COUNTY

The Hennepin County complaint states that on Sept. 3, 2018, Brooklyn Center police were dispatched to North Memorial Hospital to meet with an adult female victim who had been raped by two men earlier in the morning at the Gateway Commons apartment complex in Brooklyn Center.

The complaint states that investigators later learned from Child Protection Services that the victim had been previously diagnosed with borderline intellectual functioning.

In a series of interviews with the first responding officer, the sexual assault nurse, and the case investigator, the victim explained that she left her job late in the evening of Sept. 2, 2018, and that she rode a bus to the Brooklyn Center Transit Center to catch an additional bus to get home, and that’s where two males approached her. 

The complaint stated that further investigation revealed that a person subsequently identified as the juvenile accomplice, identified in the complaint as “E.M.K.,” walked over to the victim and offered her a ride home. The complaint stated that Gbassie was also present. The victim said that she had never met E.M.K. or Gbassie before that morning. She agreed to allow E.M.K. and Gbassie to give her a ride to her home in Gbassie’s brother’s car. 

E.M.K. and Gbassie told the victim that they first needed to stop at Gbassie’s apartment unit in the Gateway Commons apartment complex, which is located on the 2900 block of Northway Drive, directly across the street from the Brooklyn Center Transit Center. The victim said she reluctantly agreed to follow E.M.K. and Gbassie into Gbassie’s apartment unit.

Once in the apartment unit, E.M.K. and Gbassie pushed the victim down onto a bed and began fondling and kissing her. She repeatedly told E.M.K. and Gbassie that she did not want either of them to touch her. Gbassie then restrained the victim’s arms and E.M.K. pulled-off her pants, the complaint said.

The complaint states that E.M.K. raped the victim while Gbassie sat on her chest and attempted to force her to perform oral sex on him. When she resisted, Gbassie strangled her. The complaint states that E.M.K. then anally raped the victim and that they turned up the music to drown out her screams.

E.M.K. and Gbassie then drove the victim to her home in Minneapolis. When she exited the vehicle, she bent down and pretended to tie her shoes, but instead she photographed the vehicle’s license plate with her cellphone.

In an interview with the victim’s aunt, she explained to police that the victim arrived home clearly upset and told her aunt about the sexual assault. The victim’s aunt then called 911 to report the sexual assault and the victim was transported to the hospital after she described the assault to the Minneapolis police responders.

The victim underwent a sexual assault exam that revealed multiple injuries consistent with sexual assault. The Crime Lab subsequently reported that semen residue found on the victim and her clothing matched DNA profiles for both E.M.K. and Gbassie.

Brooklyn Center police tracked down the registered owner of the vehicle who claimed he was in the process of selling the vehicle to “J.G.,” and that J.G. had a younger brother named Ben. Police arrested Gbassie on Sept. 11, 2018.

In a post-Miranda statement, Gbassie identified himself in surveillance video still images from the Brooklyn Center Transit Center early on the morning of September 3, 2018 and identified the other male by his first name, “E” (redacted since he’s identified in the complaint as a juvenile at the time). Gbassie said that he drove “E” and “E’s girlfriend” from the transit center back to Gbassie’s apartment. Gbassie said that “E” and the woman went into the bedroom for about 20 minutes and turned the music up very loud. Gbassie said he never went into the bedroom with “E” and the woman and he didn’t know what happened in there. Police subsequently obtained search warrants for Gbassie’s DNA, cell phone and apartment and collected his bedding. 

Police subsequently arrested “E” at Cooper High School, and he identified himself to investigators as one of the people in the surveillance images from the transit center on the morning of the sexual assault. “E” said that neither he nor Gbassie knew the victim before Sept. 3, 2018, and that the three of them engaged in sexual intercourse in Gbassie’s bedroom. Police obtained search warrants for “E’s” DNA and cell phone.

The complaint called Gbassie “a threat to public safety” and a flight risk due to the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence if convicted, so a warrant was requested for his arrest on Nov. 14, 2019. Gbassie was arrested by Brooklyn Center police on Nov. 15, 2019 and was and booked into custody at Hennepin County Jail.

CHARGES

Gbassie is charged in the Ramsey County case with two felony counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving victims under age 13. In Hennepin County, Gbassie is facing three felony charges including two counts of aiding and abetting first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving penetration and use of force and causing injury, and one count of aiding and abetting false imprisonment. The complaints state that the maximum penalty if convicted on the first-degree sexual assault charges is up to 30 years in prison on each count and up to 3 years on the charge of false imprisonment.

The Hennepin County complaint states that prosecutors intend to seek aggravated sentencing due to the victim’s vulnerability and that multiple forms of penetration were used against the victim.

Gbassie remains in custody in Hennepin County on $500,000 bail. Gbassie was granted a public defender in Hennepin County at his initial hearing and is scheduled to make his next court appearance in that county on Jan. 9. Gbassie is still wanted on the warrant out of Ramsey County and future court dates have not yet been set in that case.

Because the other suspect is or was a juvenile at the time of the alleged Hennepin County crime, no information is available about his case or potential charges.

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