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by Katie Pyzyk — November 7, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

actNOW app prototypeRecently there has been more attention paid to how incidents of sexual assault are handled on college campuses. The team behind actNOW wants to help the victims of those campus assaults easily get access to the resources they need to deal with the frightening, overwhelming issue.

Co-founder Mark Harris says actNOW is a “survivor-centered model to help after an assault has occurred.” Many sexual assault victims are “unfamiliar with how to [report the incident]. There’s a lot of information on websites, but it’s not streamlined,” Harris says. That realization prompted him to look for a way to gather all the information into one place and make it available on a convenient mobile platform.

The web- and app-based service will allow victims of sexual assault to report the incident — either anonymously or with identifying information — to the authorities of their choice. The user enters information about the incident and can choose to inform the university, the campus Title IX office and/or the police.

Users who enter information and then don’t feel like they want to send it can also choose to store the information until they are ready to pass it on to officials. “After an event that is really traumatic, a person may want to wait to come forward,” explains co-founder and certified sexual assault nurse Stacy Garrity.

According to co-founder Lee Reynolds, the actNOW team wanted to “deliver something that’s uactNOW app prototypeseful and impactful” to allow victims to “tell their stories and… know it’s not the end of the road.”

The team members add that this is not a platform for people to put their stories out to the public or media, but rather for victims to report incidents to authorities. But it isn’t only intended to be a reporting platform; the app also will link victims to physical and psychological healthcare providers.

The service makes it less intimidating to report incidents and takes the guesswork out of trying to discover or remember available resources, the co-founders say. Harris stresses that “actNOW is a liaison to the services. We do not provide the actual psychological or physical health services.”

The service started as Harris’ academic project at Georgetown University, and he found Garrity through researching sexual assault resources. Along with Harris’ longtime friend Reynolds, the three officially launched actNOW in March. The Arlington-based business now has six employees.

Much time has been dedicated to researching and initiating appropriate app security measures for both sexual assault victims and the universities where assaults occur. “We have to be mindful of each university’s rules for investigations,” Harris says. In addition, actNOW employees want to make sure strong security measures are in place to ensure the utmost protection for victims’ identifying information and HIPAA privacy.

The actNOW team at a pitch competitionCurrently, actNOW has an app prototype and employees are getting feedback on it from sexual assault victims; so far, the response has been positive. The employees are actively seeking funding and participated in a pitch competition a couple weeks ago. They’re working toward formal app development, which they hope to begin with a tech firm in the next few weeks. If all goes well, they’d like to send the finished app to universities in April 2017 during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The goal is to spend the next three years or so maturing actNOW through activities such as receiving focus group feedback and adding additional features to the service. Eventually, employees would like to explore the possibility of expanding the service to the military.

As far as measuring success with the tool, the actNOW team says that’s achieved when people actually use the tool to get help. “It’s really hard for people to report sexual assault,” Garrity says. “So when we start to see usage of the product, I think we’ll see success.”

The team hopes their passion for developing empowerment through technology will help victims both in the short term and down the road, while simultaneously raising awareness about sexual assault.

“We want to put control back in our users’ hands,” Harris says.

by ARLnow.com — November 2, 2016 at 9:05 am 0

Road in Ashton Heights

APS Network Goes Down — Arlington’s public schools were without internet and email access yesterday due to a network outage. [Twitter, Twitter]

Above Average Teacher Salaries? — Arlington Public Schools teachers are paid somewhere between the market average (for the D.C. area) and 14 percent more than the market average, according to a new report that will be presented to the School Board on Thursday. [InsideNova]

Potomac Yard Metro Station Clears Hurdle — The planned Potomac Yard Metro station in Alexandria has received environmental approval from the federal government. The project will now enter the design and construction phase. [City of Alexandria]

Police Release Sketch of Sexual Assault Suspects — Fairfax County Police have released sketches of two men accused of abducting a 50-year-old woman they met at a restaurant on Columbia Pike in Falls Church. Police say the men sexually assaulted the woman before dropping her off along Route 50 in Arlington. [WJLA]

New Finance Director Named — Arlington has named Stephen Agostini, the former Chief Financial Officer of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as the county’s new Director of Management and Finance. [Arlington County]

by ARLnow.com — September 6, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Rosie the Riveter event at the Netherlands Carillon (courtesy Valerie Crotty)

Hazmat Incident, Arrests on I-66 — Two people were arrested on drug charges Saturday after their SUV broke down on I-66 and police found a suspicious liquid in and a suspicious smell coming from the vehicle. Lanes of westbound I-66 were shut down while a hazmat team investigated the substance. [WUSA, NBC 4]

Man Arrested for Sexual Assault on Orange Line Train — A man allegedly exposed himself and then tried to force a woman to perform a sex act on an Orange Line train Monday afternoon. The incident happened as the train was approaching the Dunn Loring station, but the man was reportedly arrested in Arlington and held at the county jail. [WTOP]

APS Still Searching for More Space — Arlington Public Schools officials have been busy trying to add more high school seats as a student capacity crunch continues and is expected to get worse at the top grade levels. For now, APS appears to be focused on adding seats at existing high schools and adding additional capacity through new high school programs, like the just-launched Arlington Tech program, as opposed to opening a fourth comprehensive high school. [InsideNova]

Photo (above) of Rosie the Riveter event at the Netherlands Carillon courtesy Valerie Crotty

by Andrew Ramonas — August 22, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

Police car (file photo)Arlington police are looking for a man who pulled a 27-year-old woman from a sidewalk and tried to touch her under her clothing in Rosslyn over the weekend.

The attempted sexual assault happened in a grassy area near the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Key Bridge about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, police say.

The woman and the man were walking past each other on the bridge when he grabbed her and forced her into the nearby grass, police said. The man then covered the woman’s mouth and tried to get his hands under her shorts.

But the victim was able to get away, and the man fled. Police described the suspect as:

A white male, in his late 20’s to early 30’s, approximately 5’8″ to 5’10” with a medium build. He is described as having fair skin, dirty blonde hair and was clean shaven at the time of the incident. He was wearing a dark t-shirt with tan shorts or possibly pants. He was last seen fleeing the area on foot along the Key Bridge towards Washington D.C.

“If anyone has information on the identity of this individual or details surrounding this incident, please contact Detective R. Icolari of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 703.228.4240 or at [email protected],” police said in a press release. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”

by ARLnow.com — July 25, 2016 at 10:55 am 0

Police car (file photo)Arlington County Police reported two sexual assault incidents in the Rosslyn area in its Friday crime report.

One incident happened near the Iwo Jima memorial, as a woman was walking home from the Rosslyn Metro station around 10 p.m.  Police say a man in a ski mask approached the woman, possibly exposed himself and grabbed her inappropriately.

From ACPD:

SEXUAL ASSAULT, 160721005, 1200 N. Meade Street. At approximately 10pm a female was walking from the Rosslyn metro to her residence when she was approached by a white male wearing a ski mask. As the suspect approached he lifted his shorts up, possibly exposing himself. The victim walked away from the man, who then groped her in the crotch area. The man fled the scene and is described as a White or Hispanic male, 5’8″ with an athletic build, wearing a black ski mask, long sleeve shirt, silver basketball shorts, and black Vans sneakers.

The other crime happened around 6:30 p.m. on the 1700 block of Clarendon Blvd, near the intersection with N. Quinn Street.

SEXUAL ASSAULT, 160721043, 1700 N. Clarendon Blvd. At approximately 6:30pm a female was walking on Clarendon Blvd. near Quinn Street when a man on a bicycle approached her from behind and grabbed her breast. The suspect is described as a husky White male wearing a dark colored bike helmet, maroon shirt, gray khaki shorts and white shoes.

The rest of the notable items from the Friday’s and today’s Arlington crime reports, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — June 24, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Anibal Rodriguez Castellanos (photo courtesy ACPD)A day after releasing a composite sketch in the hopes of catching a sexual assault suspect, Arlington County Police today said they got their man.

Anibal Castellanos, a 36-year-old Arlington resident, has been arrested and charged with burglary and attempted rape in connection to the June 19 attack.

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit has made an arrest in the case of a sexual assault which occurred at a residence in the 3900 block of 4th Street N. in the early morning hours of June 19, 2016. Mr. Anibal Rodriguez Castellanos, 36, of Arlington, Va. is charged with Nighttime Burglary while armed and Attempt Rape. Mr. Anibal Rodriguez Castellanos is currently being held with no bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

At approximately 2:00 a.m. on June 19th, an unknown male subject unlawfully entered a female victim’s apartment and sexually assaulted her while using the threat of a knife to hold her against her will. During the attack, the victim was able to escape and lock herself in a bathroom where she called for help. The male suspect fled the residence on foot and was observed by a neighbor leaving the scene.

Following interviews with the victim and witnesses, a composite sketch of the suspect was developed. A combination of evidence collected during the investigation and the accounts of several people from the neighborhood led to the identification of Mr. Anibal Rodriguez Castellanos. Members of the Tactical Unit, First District Policing Team and Detectives of the Special Victims Unit apprehended Mr. Anibal Rodriguez Castellanos at his home in Arlington, Va.

Special Victim’s Unit detectives continue to collect evidence and ask anyone who knows this individual or details surrounding the June 19th incident, to please contact Detective P. Pena at 703.228.4183 or [email protected] To report information anonymously, please contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

by ARLnow.com — June 23, 2016 at 10:55 am 0

Composite sketch of sexual assault suspect (photo courtesy ACPD)Arlington County Police have released a composite sketch of a man who broke into a woman’s apartment and sexually assaulted her.

The crime happened early Sunday morning near Ballston and was first reported earlier this week.

Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the suspect. They have released a composite sketch (left), in the hopes that it may lead to more tips.

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating a suspect involved in the sexual assault of a female victim which occurred at a residence in the 3900 block of 4th Street N. in the early morning hours of June 19, 2016.

At approximately 2:00 a.m., an unknown male subject unlawfully entered a female victim’s apartment and sexually assaulted her while using the threat of a weapon to hold her against her will. During the attack, the 28 year old female victim was able to lock herself in the bathroom and yell for help. The male suspect fled the scene on foot.

The suspect is described as a white Hispanic male, 25-35 years old with dark hair and a fair complexion. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with dark pants. Following interviews with the victim and witnesses, a composite sketch of the suspect was developed.

Arlington County Police detectives are actively investigating this incident. Responding officers attempted a canine track in the area with negative results and officers canvassed the area speaking with possible witnesses. Officers will continue conducting extra checks in the area.

If anyone has information on the identity of this individual or details surrounding this incident, please contact Detective P. Pena of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 703.228.4183 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

by ARLnow.com — June 20, 2016 at 3:35 pm 0

Police car (file photo)A man broke into a woman’s apartment near Ballston early Sunday morning and sexually assaulted her.

The crime happened on the 3900 block of 4th Street N., in the Ashton Heights neighborhood, according to a police press release. The Arlington County Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect.

From ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating a suspect involved in the sexual assault of a female victim which occurred at a residence in the 3900 block of 4th Street N. in the early morning hours of June 19, 2016.

At approximately 2:00 a.m., an unknown male subject unlawfully entered a female victim’s apartment and sexually assaulted her while using the threat of a weapon to hold her against her will. During the attack, the 28 year old female victim was able to lock herself in the bathroom and yell for help. The male suspect fled the scene on foot. The suspect is described as a white Hispanic male, 25-35 years old with dark hair and a fair complexion. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with dark pants.

Arlington County Police detectives are actively investigating this incident. Responding officers attempted a canine track in the area with negative results and officers canvassed the area speaking with possible witnesses. Officers will continue conducting extra checks in the area.

If anyone has information on the identity of this individual or details surrounding this incident, please contact Detective P. Pena of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 703.228.4183 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

by ARLnow.com — June 17, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

2600 block of Arlington Blvd (photo via Google Maps)A 16-year-old girl was sexually assaulted on her way home from school Friday afternoon.

The assault was reported around 3:30 p.m., on the 2600 block of Arlington Blvd. Initial reports suggest that a man reached up the teen’s skirt and touched her inappropriately, before fleeing on foot.

The suspect was described as a Hispanic male in his late 40s, who was wearing work pants, work boots, a white hat and a white t-shirt at the time of the attack. Police are currently searching for the suspect.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — June 17, 2016 at 3:30 pm 0

Justin Wingate Poe (photo courtesy ACPD)(Updated at 4 p.m.) A Woodbridge man has been arrested in connection with the sexual assault of a Lyon Park woman last month.

The sexual assault was linked via evidence to two attempted abductions in Arlington in 2007, according to Arlington County Police. A renewed investigation into those cold cases led to the arrest of 34-year-old Justin Poe.

Poe has not yet been charged in the May sexual assault.

“We are awaiting additional evidence and additional charges are expected related to the 2016 case,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department has arrested and charged a 34 year-old suspect with two counts of attempted abduction for his role in attacks stemming from 2007. Justin Wingate Poe, 34, of Woodbridge, VA is currently being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility. Additional charges are expected.

At approximately 4:56 a.m. on May 15, 2016 a female victim awoke in her residence in the 700 block of N. Edgewood Street to an unknown male sexually assaulting her. Following the attack, the male suspect fled the scene and the victim was able to contact 911. DNA evidence recovered from this assault was submitted to the state laboratory for analysis. The DNA results linked this case with an unsolved 2007 attempted abduction in the 1100 block of N. Vermont Street.

At approximately 2:27 a.m. on May 28, 2007 a female victim was walking in the 1100 block of N. Vermont Street when an unknown male suspect confronted her from behind and attempted to cover her face with a plastic bag. The victim screamed and the suspect fled the area on foot. The plastic bag was processed for evidence and a latent fingerprint was recovered.

An additional attack occurred on June 7, 2007 at approximately 1:20 a.m. when a female victim inside her residence in the 2600 block of Lee Highway heard a knock on her door. When she opened the door, an unknown male subject standing against the wall just outside the door attempted to place a plastic bag over the victim’s head. The victim screamed and the suspect fled the scene on foot. The victim was able to provide a detailed description of the suspect to police and a composite sketch was released to the public.

Upon receiving the link between the 2007 and 2016 cases, Arlington County Police Department detectives began an intensive investigation including the review of cold case files, crime scene evidence and laboratory results. The review led to additional information that led detectives to identify Justin Wingate Poe as a possible suspect. Forensic evidence and thorough investigative efforts linked the suspect to the incidents in the 1100 block of N. Vermont Street and the 2600 block of Lee Highway.

Officers from the Arlington County Police Department’s Tactical Unit and the Prince William County Police Department took Poe into custody at his residence in Woodbridge, VA in the evening hours of June 17, 2016. Poe has been charged with two counts of attempted abduction. Additional charges are expected. The apprehension of Poe was the direct result of outstanding police work and the leveraging of resources from our regional law enforcement partners.

The investigation into Poe is ongoing. Anyone who has information regarding these incidents or concerning Poe is asked to call Detective Sloan at 703.228.4198 or [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

by ARLnow.com — June 3, 2016 at 2:40 pm 0

Suspects from a sexual assault that occurred on a Yellow Line train (photo courtesy WMATA)

(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) Metro Transit Police are investigating a sexual assault that occurred last night on a Yellow Line train.

Metro says three men assaulted a woman, grabbing her inappropriately, after she refused to perform a sexual act.

The assault took place on a train near the Braddock Road Metro station. Transit Police investigated the incident at the Crystal City Metro station Thursday night, just before 10 p.m., prompting delays on the Blue and Yellow lines.

Late Friday afternoon, Metro released a press release (below) and surveillance images of the suspects (above).

Metro Transit Police are investigating a reported sexual battery aboard a Yellow Line train last night and are seeking the public’s assistance to identify three persons of interest pictured below.

The victim, an adult female, advised officers that she was approached by three males at around 9:30 p.m. aboard a northbound train from Huntington. As the train traveled between Eisenhower Ave and Braddock Road stations, the males approached the victim and asked her to perform a sexual act. When the victim refused, the suspects assaulted the female, including grabbing her body through her clothing.

The victim reported the incident to MTPD officers who broadcast a flash lookout and conducted a canvass of trains and stations along the line. The victim declined medical assistance and was subsequently transported to her residence by MTPD officers.

The suspects were described as follows:

1. Black male (medium complexion), age 18-30, height 5’8″-5’11”, weight 140 wearing red t-shirt with “aero” logo and blue jeans
2. Black male (medium complexion), age 18-30, height 5’8″-5’11”, weight 140 wearing black t-shirt with white shirt underneath and black jeans
3. Black male (medium complexion), age 18-30, height 5’8″-5’11”, weight 140 wearing black Nike shirt with yellow “P” Pittsburgh Pirates logo and blue jeans

Anyone who may have information about this incident is urged to contact Metro Transit Police detectives by calling (202) 962-2121 or by sending a text message to “MyMTPD” (696873).

by ARLnow.com — May 16, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

Police car lightsArlington County Police are searching for a man who sexually assaulted a woman in Lyon Park over the weekend.

The incident happened around 5 a.m. Sunday morning. Police say a woman “awoke to an unknown male sexually assaulting her.” After the attack, he fled the scene.

Police are looking for a man in a tan four-door sedan, who was last seen wearing a black hooded shell jacket with a hood.

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating a suspect involved in the sexual assault of a female victim which occurred at a residence in the 700 block of N. Edgewood Street in the early morning hours of May 15, 2016.

At approximately 4:56 a.m. a female victim awoke to an unknown male sexually assaulting her. Following the attack, the male suspect fled the scene. The victim was then able to call 911. The victim advised that earlier in the evening, at approximately 2:30 a.m., upon returning to the residence she observed an unknown adult male walking away from the rear of the home. That individual left the area in a tan colored four door sedan. He was described as wearing a black hooded shell jacket with the hood up. The male suspect involved in this incident was described as wearing similar clothing.

Detectives from the Special Victim’s Unit are actively investigating this incident. Responding officers attempted a canine track in the area with negative results and officers canvased the area speaking with possible witnesses. Officers will continue conducting extra checks in the area.

If anyone has information on the identity of this individual or details surrounding this incident, please contact Detective G. Sloan of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 703.228.4198 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

by ARLnow.com — May 2, 2016 at 3:55 pm 0

Rosslyn Hyatt (photo via Google Maps)Prosecutors have dropped charges against a woman who told police she was drugged and sexually assaulted before stealing a car in Rosslyn in February.

The 22-year-old suspect, whose first name is Samantha, was arrested on Valentine’s Day morning after calling police to report that she was “in possession of a vehicle that was not hers.”

From our previous article on the alleged crime:

Samantha, 22, told police she was intoxicated when she took an Uber to District Taco in Rosslyn Saturday night, intent on grabbing some food. Afterward, she walked down to the Hyatt hotel, on the 1300 block of Wilson Blvd, milled about a bit and then allegedly stole a car from the valet.

Samantha’s next recollection, according to police, is waking up in the back seat of the car around 1 a.m., in an unknown location in Arlington. She then drove home, went to sleep, and called police around 9 a.m. to come clean about what happened, said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

After Samantha’s arrest was included in a crime report and in the ARLnow article, her attorney contacted us to say that she was “involuntarily intoxicated and had been the victim of a sexual assault.”

Police were called to a local hospital and took a report of a sexual assault Sunday evening, after the suspect was released from jail, ACPD confirmed after an inquiry from ARLnow.com. “That case is ongoing,” said Savage, the police spokeswoman.

Court records show that Samantha had a preliminary hearing in April and that the charges had been dropped “nolle prosequi.”

Savage said that no arrests have been made in the alleged sexual assault and that police do not have a description of the suspect. Jeff Overand, Samantha’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.

by ARLnow.com — April 28, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Potomac River calm (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Residents Supportive of Cemetery Expansion Plan — The military held a meeting yesterday to reveal preliminary plans to expand Arlington National Cemetery and realign Columbia Pike. Local residents were generally supportive of the plan and the need to expand the cemetery. [Washington Post]

Arlington Woman Turns 100 — The Sunrise senior living community in Arlington has celebrated the 100th birthday of a resident, Kathleen Hanawalt. Hanawalt celebrated the event with her daughter-in-law and two grandsons. Hanawalt’s husband died in 1969. [InsideNova]

Endorsements for Gutshall, Talento — Arlington County Board challenger Erik Gutshall has picked up a trio of endorsements from state lawmakers. State Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Alfonso Lopez and Del. Rip Sullivan have endorsed Gutshall in his primary challenge against County Board Chair Libby Garvey. Meanwhile, School Board candidate Tannia Talento has received the endorsement of School Board member Reid Goldstein. [Blue Virginia, InsideNova]

Sexual Assault Awareness Event at the Pentagon — All branches of the military were represented at a recent event to raise awareness of and combat sexual assault in the military. “Walk-a-Lap for a Survivor” was held in the Pentagon courtyard on April 20. Also participating in the event were members of Arlington-based Doorways for Women and Families. [Pentagram]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — April 14, 2016 at 4:15 pm 0

ACPD arrest of sexual assault suspect Melvin Perez-Bonilla (mug shot vs. sketch)A 19-year-old man has been sentenced to spend seven years in prison before being deported, after pleading guilty to two sexual assault incidents in Arlington.

Melvin Perez-Bonilla was arrested in October and charged in connection to a string of sexual assaults in 2015.

Prosecutors say Perez-Bonilla attacked a 25-year-old woman while she was walking home alone in the Clarendon area early in the morning of July 25, 2015. On the evening Sept. 29, 2015, he attacked a 23-year-old woman who was walking home near Washington-Lee High School.

Perez-Bonilla was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with 13 years suspended. He will be placed on the sex offender registry and will be deported upon serving his sentence, according to a press release.

“The Special Victims Unit and Tactical Unit’s efforts and a strong partnership with the Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office have resulted in a predator being removed from the streets.” said Deputy Chief Daniel Murray, who heads ACPD’s Criminal Investigations Division. “These horrible offenses and attacks on our community will be relentlessly pursued by our detectives.”

Another sexual assault suspect, Santos Efrain Vasquez-Lopez, is set to go before a grand jury on April 25, according to police.

The full press release from the Arlington County Police Department, after the jump.

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