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Rape suspect ordered to stand trial

By Virginia Ross

Friday, November 4, 2005

Tackett also is charged with raping another woman in September.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- A Taylor Township man accused of raping a city woman has been ordered to stand trial in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.
Michael Ray Tackett, 34, of 14th Street, West Pittsburg, faces charges of rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, attempted rape and involuntary sexual intercourse and simple assault. He was formally charged in September.
The 34-year-old woman, testifying at a preliminary hearing Thursday, said Tackett forcefully sodomized her. She is the second woman to accuse Tackett of rape within the last several months.
She testified she had known Tackett for several years, and that the two had gone to school together. She said she began providing Tackett with sexual favors in exchange for cash at least once a week for several months in late 2003 and early 2004. She said she needed the cash to buy crack cocaine.
She said Tackett typically called her to meet him between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. and then transported her in his vehicle to the former Holiday Inn in Union Township, where the two had sexual relations.
She said on one occasion, Tackett told her he wanted to perform sodomy, but she refused. She said he tried to force her, but he stopped when she pleaded with him. She said he drove her home and gave her $40.
"I begged him to stop," the woman testified. "I said whatever I had to say."
She said several weeks after that meeting Tackett apologized, and the sexual contact between the two resumed on a regular basis.
Last encounter
During their last encounter, Tackett drove the woman to a wooded area off Pa. Route 168, where he threatened her with a gun before sodomizing her, she testified.
"I knew I was in trouble because we had never gone that way before," she said. "He had always taken me to the old Holiday Inn. I was scared."
She said Tackett told her he was going to sodomize her, and if she didn't cooperate he would kill her.
She testified Tackett told her he was teaching her a lesson and was trying to keep her off drugs and off the streets. She said after the assault Tackett "preached to her" during the drive back to the city that "someone had to teach her a lesson."
She said she never went to a doctor or to the hospital and didn't report the assaults because she was embarrassed she had been exchanging sex for money.
She said she realized she needed to report the assaults after learning police had found the bodies of known prostitutes in the area.
Other charge
Police charged Tackett in September with raping a 31-year-old Ellwood City woman. She told police that she was sodomized by Tackett in a Waldo Street house in late April or early May this year. Those charges also were bound over for trial.
District Attorney Matthew Mangino said Tackett was questioned, but not charged, in the deaths of two women found in the woods off Pa. Route 168. Mandy Sue McLaren and Tammie Mullins, who police have said were prostitutes, were found Aug. 31. Mullins had been dead about a month and McLaren about a week, police said.