Man arrested in violent attacks against gay men

Updated:

KENT, Wash. - A man was arrested for at least five violent attacks against gay men, police said.

Kent and Seattle investigators believe 32-year-old Laverne Maxwell attacked five men, who reported meeting him through a cellphone dating app. In at least one case, one of the apps was called GROWLr.

According to charging documents, during the encounters, Maxwell pulled a handgun and robbed the victims of cellphones and tablets.

 “I think they went there with the intent that it was just to be a social visit, and obviously it turned into something much more sinister,” said Pat Lowery of the Kent Police Department.

In one Seattle case, the victim also reported Maxwell raped him and threatened to kill him.

Maxwell was charged with seven separate counts of rape, robbery, burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm and more.

Police told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Amy Clancy that even though five men have come forward to say they met Maxwell online, they think there could be more victims.

“Oftentimes people of the gay, lesbian and transgender community feel a certain amount of social pressure not to expose themselves to public identification and so we think that may be something that weighs on the mind on some of our victims, they’re afraid to do so, to come forward,” Lowery said.

Maxwell does have an extensive criminal history – including 11 prior felony convictions. He is at the Kent Regional Justice Center on more than $700,000 bail.