AUSTIN (KXAN) — A jury heard opening statements Wednesday in the sexual assault trial against a former Austin Fire Department Arson Investigator accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2017.
Marcus Reed, 49, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the trial that began Monday. He’s charged with sexual assault, aggravated perjury and official oppression.
In 2017, a woman told police Reed had stopped to help her while she was stopped in the middle of the Interstate 35 frontage road at East St. Elmo Road in southeast Austin after she had an argument with a friend.
She said Reed pulled up behind her in his work truck, flashed his emergency lights and drove her to a nearby parking lot. The victim told police she believed Reed was a police officer because of his uniform and badge. He allegedly drove her to a shopping center parking lot at 4401 Freidrich Lane where he sexually assaulted her.
During opening statements, both the prosecution and defense said the woman was in the middle of a drug deal when Reed spotted her. The defense said the friend the woman was buying heroin from took her keys out of her ignition and ran off with them because the victim wasn’t paying her the agreed upon price. The defense said Reed retrieved the woman’s cars, told her to pull into a nearby gas station, helped defuse the situation, then let her go.
The prosecution, however claimed Reed and the victim’s interaction didn’t stop there. The prosecutor says Reed saw some court paperwork in the victim’s car, realizing she was in legal trouble, and chose to use that against her. That’s when the prosecutor says Reed told the woman to get in his marked AFD truck and took her to the Freidrich Lane parking lot.
The prosecution claims once in the parking lot, Reed got out of the truck, walked around to the passenger’s side and had the victim perform oral sex on him twice, before having sex with her. The prosecutor said in his opening statement that the victim felt a hard object being held to her back and feared for her life.
The woman waited about six months to report what happened to police. Prosecutors say she would face more drug charges if she didn’t do what Reed wanted.
Prosecutors say the woman originally thought Reed was a police officer, because of the flashing lights he used when he pulled up to her car. A series of text messages shown in the courtroom showed that she saved Reed’s number as “Officer” in her phone. The first text message received from that contact asked if she made it home safely the night after they first encountered each other. Over time, the texts to the woman became more sexual in nature.
Prosecutors say Reed sent the woman 38 texts over the course of a little more than a month. She replied to some of the messages.
During investigations, the woman picked Reed out from a photo lineup with 99% certainty, according to a police affidavit. Hours after the alleged assault, Reed logged into the Austin Police Department’s secured reporting database and searched the woman’s information, police said.
After the woman came forward in 2017, new allegations came to light, leading to prosecutors indicting Reed on an additional charge in June 2019.
Reed also faces a felony charge of indecency with a child, but that charge and case are not connected with the March 2017 assault currently on trial.