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Contributor

Phone: (813) ***-****  HQ Phone
Tampa Bay Online
200 S. Parker Street
Tampa , Florida 33606
United States

Company Description: "The company said, `Listen, we can manage through this, and North America is very, very strong,"' Selesky said. North American operating profits rose 33 percent...   more
Background

Employment History

  • Rapid Response Towing
Web References
Steven Vanwart DADE ...
www2.tbo.com [cached]
Steven Vanwart
DADE CITY Steven Vanwart has a tattoo of the grim reaper on his right arm.
The image seemed apropos in light of Wednesday's testimony from a 19-year-old woman who says he raped her last year while she was pregnant.
"I started screaming, and he said that if I resisted he was going to hurt me," the woman said from the stand.
The Tampa Tribune is withholding the woman's name because of the nature of the allegations.
Vanwart, 42, of Land O' Lakes, is on trial, charged with two counts of sexual battery and single counts of false imprisonment and aggravated assault.He faces a maximum of 40 years in prison if found guilty as charged.Jurors are expected to begin their deliberations Friday.
In his opening statement, Assistant Public Defender Dillon Vizcarra said the sex was consensual and part of an ongoing sex-for-money exchange between Vanwart and the woman.The woman made up the rape allegations after Vanwart refused to give her $1,000 for having sex with him on Aug. 2, Vizcarra said.
"This case is about a trade," Vizcarra said."Steven Vanwart gave [the woman] cash. [The woman] gave Steven Vanwart sex.They traded that night; they had traded before."
But that wasn't the story the woman told when she took the stand.She told the jurors she went to Vanwart's travel trailer that night after she and her mother argued.
She and Vanwart had met while they were working together at Rapid Response Towing in Land O' Lakes.Vanwart lived in a travel trailer on the property, and the woman had hung out there in the weeks leading up to the incident.
They watched a movie, and she fell asleep.The woman said she woke up hours later with her hands and legs bound with zip ties and Vanwart on top of her wearing a Halloween mask.She struggled against him, she said, but thought better of it after Vanwart threatened her with a stun gun and a rope.
Vanwart raped her despite her pleas, she said, then left for about 20 minutes.When he returned, he apologized and offered her $100 to "be quiet," she said.
"I told him I didn't want anything from him," she said."I want him behind bars, where he belongs."
During Vizcarra's cross-examination, the woman denied ever having consensual sex with Vanwart.Her answers, though, indicated the two had at least a casual friendship and that she had spent the night in his travel trailer at least once before, though it was with a friend.
Vizcarra also asked her why she waited almost eight hours to report the incident to authorities.Instead, she got a ride to a friend's house, then returned home and fell asleep.She called the Pasco County Sheriff's Office just before 3 that afternoon after telling her brother what happened.
"I didn't know what to do.OK?"she snapped.
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