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Details emerge in reported rape at SML Community Park
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Details emerge in reported rape at SML Community Park

Judge Clyde Perdue denied a second bond request by Sammy Hamadeh on July 24. The Roanoke resident was charged with rape following an incident at Smith Mountain Lake Community Park in June.

Commonwealth District Attorney Sandra Workman said the case is “very unusual” compared to other rape cases since it happened in a public area. “This charge results from witnesses to an act that was taking place in broad daylight,” Workman said.

Hamadeh was at the park’s beach with three coworkers from his job at Panera Bread and a college student from Washington, D.C., who was visiting one of the coworkers. While at the park, Workman said they eventually moved to a secluded cove near the beach where they were drinking alcohol.

After drinking too much alcohol, the college student became incapacitated, with witnesses reporting that she was unable to hold her head up, Workman said. At some point a male and female left the group, leaving the college student alone with Hamadeh and Jorge Pena, who was charged with accessory before the fact following the incident.

During a phone call July 25, Workman said charges could still be brought against Pena as the investigation is ongoing.

“It became clear that what they were seeing was Mr. Pena having sex with this young lady, and Mr. Hamadeh being nearby and periodically lifting her head up out of the water that she couldn’t even hold up,” Workman said.

Workman said witnesses saw Pena hand off the woman to Hamadeh with the intent of having sex with her. She said the witnesses became upset, took a cellphone video and notified a lifeguard who called 911.

“The lifeguard found this young woman curled up in a fetal position, hysterically crying, and began to help her,” Workman said. “You have a case of brutality here witnessed by other people and, in fact, videoed.”

Attorney Robert Dean, who is representing Hamadeh, said what occurred at the park is “a source of great dispute,” and Hamadeh maintains his innocence. He asked Perdue to grant bond to allow Hamadeh the opportunity to oppose the charges against him.

“What happened when the three of them were left behind, that is the whole case,” Dean said.

Dean said the videos taken of the incident are alleged to show both Pena and Hamadeh having sex with the woman. Dean admitted that the woman can be heard yelling in the video, but debated the reason. “Was she yelling out in fear, or in pain, or for help or is she yelling out in the throws of ecstasy, which will be our evidence at trial,” he said in court.

When a lifeguard intervened, Dean said the woman did not indicate that she needed help. “There is not going to be any evidence at trial that the young woman from D.C. is going to say she was raped,” Dean said. “She is going to say she doesn’t remember or doesn’t know.”

Dean added that Hamadeh has formed close ties to the community since moving in with his sister and brother-in-law in 2017 and was willing to wear an ankle monitoring device and stay in Roanoke, if released.

Hamadeh returned to the area from Saudi Arabia where he attended school for several years. He was born in Tennessee and has dual citizenship in both countries.

Commonwealth District Attorney Sandra Workman argued that Hamadeh had no close ties to the area and would be a flight risk if released. She pointed out that he had attempted to flee when officers arrived at the park on the day of the alleged incident.

Perdue said he would take the bond request under advisement, but ultimately decided against allowing bond. He said they could take it up again at a later date if there is any additional evidence.

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