Local News

Landlord accused of fondling tenants' children

Posted September 25, 2008 7:21 p.m. EDT
Updated September 26, 2008 7:03 p.m. EDT

— A registered Raleigh sex offender was arrested Thursday on charges that he fondled children of tenants to whom he rented houses.

Michael Assaad Lahoud, 42, of 1905 Grove Point Court, faces nine counts of taking indecent liberties with a child for alleged crimes dating back approximately eight years.

According to a Sept. 11 search warrant for Lahoud's home, investigators spoke to four people who claim Lahoud either fondled them or forced them to touch him on as many as five occasions.

The allegations occurred when the victims, now ranging in age from 12 to 18 years old, were as young as 7 years old.

Lahoud was in the Wake County jail Friday under a $1.5 million secure bond. During an initial court appearance Friday afternoon, a District Court judge denied a request Friday afternoon to reduce the bond.

His attorney, Roger Smith, implied the charges to be an organized effort to smear his client's reputation and called the bond amount "excessive."

"It's like a bond in a murder case," Smith said.

According to the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry, Lahoud was convicted in February 2002 of one count of taking indecent liberties with a minor and sentenced to probation for a year.

In December 2004, he was convicted on three counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor (dating back to March 1992, July 1998 and June 2002) and was sentenced to two years' probation.

Court records also indicate Lahoud was arrested in November 1994 on an indecent liberties with a child charge, but it was dismissed in 1996.

"Adults need to hold our judicial system accountable so that these abusers are not back recommitting these kinds of crimes," said Rosie Allen, president of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina.

Allen said that because many sex offenders seem to spend little time in jail, parents need to be vigilant in protecting their children.

"We know the overwhelming number of abusers of children are well-known folks to family," she said.

Ninety-three percent of children are molested by someone they know, Allen said, and 90 percent will never tell anyone. One in four girls is molested; one in six boys are molested.

A man who did not identify himself answered the door at Lahoud's home Friday afternoon, saying no one was home and that he was there taking care of the family's dogs.

A tenant of Lahoud, who wished to remain anonymous and does not have children, expressed shock Friday of the allegations, calling Lahoud "a real nice guy."