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Real estate agent afraid to contact police after attack

Posted September 8, 2009

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— A real estate agent allegedly raped while showing a house in Cary was afraid to call police after the attack, according to a 911 call released on Tuesday.

Michael Edward Sleeman, 33, of 5912 Holland Farms Way in Raleigh, is charged with one count each of first-degree sexual offense and first-degree kidnapping. He was being held Tuesday in the Wake County jail under a $2 million bond.

Michael Sleeman, Cary real estate agent rape case Rape suspect appears in court

Lt. John Szymeczek of the Cary Police Department said Sleeman asked the woman to see homes in the West Lake community, which is under development off West Lake Road. After she showed him one home, he asked to see something smaller, and she took him to another home in the development, police said.

Once inside the home on Blue Thorn Drive, he pulled out a knife and attacked the woman, Szymeczek said. She told investigators that her attacker restrained her and threatened her, and she said he also told her he was a convicted sex offender.

The woman said she was allowed to leave in her car, and she called a friend, who called police.

In the 911 call, the man, who identified himself as a coworker, described the victim as hysterical. He said she contacted him and was afraid to call authorities because her attacker said if she called the police “he’d come back and get her.”

"I told her she had to call the police," the caller told the dispatcher.

Sleeman pleaded guilty in 2002 to aggravated sexual battery in Virginia and was placed on probation. In North Carolina, he was arrested in 1998 on a charge of assault on a female and again in 2003 on a charge of soliciting for prostitution. Both of those charges were dismissed.

Local real estate agents said the incident has caused them to review their safety practices.

"If I am forced to meet someone out at a property, I always take someone with me. It's a choice that I've made in my business," local real estate agent Connie Floyd said Tuesday. "Fortunately, I've built most of my business out of referrals, so I make an effort not to meet strangers out at properties."

Next week is Realtor Safety Week, according to the NC Association of Realtors. The association advises real estate agents to never host an open house alone or show a property alone at night and always find out as much as possible about a potential home buyer.

59 Comments

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  • a.miss99 Sep 8, 2009

    Thank you Just Brian

  • BeSafe Sep 8, 2009

    JAT you are forgetting one major point regarding this story. The victim was an ON-SITE agent at the community. Basically, these agents are in a position not unlike you sitting in your own home with the front door unlocked & open. Your customers come to you...sometimes with warning of a phone call appt, sometimes stopping in because they are out driving around. These on-site agents are in jeopardy virtually every time their model door opens. The HBA must recommend industry wide standards for new home communities to at least try to deter future tragic situations such as this. Implement policies to deter, add security cameras, request ID's, just do more and make it standard so they agents aren't penalized by customers thinking it's an invasion on their privacy. If it is an industry standard, and it comes immediately following an incident like this, it will hopefully help to deter future crimes. Just my 2 cents. God bless this woman and her family.

  • a.miss99 Sep 8, 2009

    JAT I find your comments about this being avoidable infuriating! Agents don't make the big bucks or have the time on our hands the public seems to think we do. We can't afford a personal body guard or full on background checks on every potential client, and what person is going to give their credit card number just to see a house? Most of us do take proper precautions for safety and follow our gut instincts when showing homes but this is not a preventable case. And for others suggesting defense.. if she tried to defend herself during the incident who knows what could have happened to her. Absolutely no one in the world can judge what could have happened differently, only someone who has been through it understands the fear and trauma and how she could call a coworker rather than police. I truly hope this agent understands she is not to blame, this guy is a monster and she did the right things to get out of the situation safely.

    And Gsmith your comment is rediculous

  • just brian Sep 8, 2009

    JAT-
    #1- Realtors don't pull credit reports. Mortgage Lenders pull them and advise the agent.
    #2- If you haven't seen an agent go out without prequalifying someone, then you haven't seen an agent working in a tough market like this.
    #3- Most people look at a request to photocopy a license as an invasion of privacy and will leave and work with someone who won't ask to copy it.

    Some of these comments are a knee jerk reaction to an issue that manifested itself in ONE example of some psycho that should have been locked up in the first place.

    I don't care who you are, when someone holds a knife up to you and threatens you, you don't have the time to read through everyone's suggestions as to what you should have done or how to react.

    Realtors have been through showing homes thousands of times a week and when this happens 1 time, people want to change the way the business has worked for years.

    Yes, Realtors must be cautious but they also have to put food on the table.

  • avidreader Sep 8, 2009

    If I were a realtor I would never show property alone with anyone - not even a couple. I knew a person in VA that helped her boyfriend lure a realtor to a house and they murdered her. If I had to take my spouse or pay someone to go with me I would not go alone - just not smart.

  • rescuefan Sep 8, 2009

    "I've never seen an agent that didn't qualify the person beforehand, before even showing the first property. Now, maybe she did this, but I'd think that would have turned up more information about the person. Obviously, he didn't get all the correct info, just enough to lead cops to him but that makes me think she didn't pre-qualify him with ID, credit reports, and all the other stuff that realtors and bankers do.
    JAT"

    I have toured many new home communities and I have NEVER been prequalified before being allowed to tour the homes. That is not something that is commonly done in new home communities. And actually, I have worked with several RE agents when buying a house and they never required me to be prequalified, only sign a buyer's agent agreement.

    This poor woman! I hope they lock him up for life this time around.

  • shortcake53 Sep 8, 2009

    YO, I believe GS was insinuating that RE's should feel guilty about selling homes. Take that for what its worth.........

  • yo eleven Sep 8, 2009

    "Knowing what I know about realtors, they should be even more worried about the dangers of getting caught up in all the deception involved in getting some poor sap to take a home off their hands."

    I am confused by your comment. please explain what you mean

  • Supie Sep 8, 2009

    santa claws: News stories often say "alleged" because the guy has not been convicted by a court. A good defense lawyer can say that the defendant was "already tried and convicted by the news services" if they call him the perpetrator before he is actually convicted. You might want to trim those claws.

  • james27613 Sep 8, 2009

    The agents should have the customer stop by the office
    so they can have security camera running while they
    check references at job and bank.

    This type of crime happens more then we know,
    so many fear the attacker will return at a later date
    and that is why they do not report.

    These convicts can not be reformed.

    They should exterminated by a court of law and jury.

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