In a tragic story from Tampa, Florida, a middle-aged man named Marcelo Alves was convicted of four counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon, among other charges. Alves could face a potential life sentence for violently raping a 22-year-old woman he met on a website called SugarDaddyForMe.com. Alves claimed that the sex was prearranged and consensual, but it’s hard to believe that sex outside a vacant mansion where one party was wearing a stocking over his head and carrying a large knife could plausibly be considered consensual.
During the trial, the victim recounted registering with the dating website, which advertises itself as a place where men who want to “to mentor pamper & spoil” can meet women wanting to be “pampered” by “that classy, caring and mature partner.” She said that Alves represented himself as a man named “Mark Garcia,” and that they had chatted several times, discussing the possibility of sex and the exchange of money. However, when they met, the victim suffered violent sexual assault.
“I kept saying, like, ‘Please don’t kill me,’” the victim testified.
It sounds like the victim was put through a fairly horrifying ordeal during the trial; she was asked if she was a prostitute, and she denied the accusation, saying that she was meeting with Garcia without the expectation of money. Alves denied this, saying that he had promised to pay $1,000 and when it became evident during the sex that he wasn’t going to pay, the victim threatened to tell the police that he had raped her.
Jennifer Dritt, the executive director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, seemed alarmed by the potential harm that could be caused by rendezvous created on such websites.
“While most online dating relationships don’t end up this way, you really don’t know who you’re talking to,” Dritt said. “I think, potentially, they’re very dangerous. And where money is exchanged, people can have different interpretations of what’s offered and promised.”
It’s fortunate that the media has been keeping the victim’s name private, because the trial illustrates the propensity to blame women for going to “sugar daddy” and “sugar baby” websites in the first place.
Photo from Flickr.