UPDATE: Trolley Trail groper pleads guilty; admits to grabbing a woman and exposing himself
BY REBECCA BENNETT — Updated at 2:59 p.m. On March 4, a sheriff’s deputy led the somber Joshua Charles Price away from a Prince George’s County courtroom in handcuffs to immediately begin a one-year sentence. The 23 year old pled guilty to a second degree sexual assault and an indecent exposure that occurred on the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail in a section that connects Riverdale Park and the City of Hyattsville. A series of incidents occurred in 2015 targeting women, even those with children, and made local residents fearful of using the trail for some time.
“In the beginning the complexity of this case proved difficult for investigators due to the number of reported incidents in multiple jurisdictions in a very short amount of time with little to no leads,” Riverdale Park Police Lt. Andrew Powell said. “However, in the end, the sheer determination of the community working with law enforcement developed a suspect which ultimately led to the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of Joshua Price for the heinous crimes perpetrated against the sanctity of our community.”
In a deal worked out with the prosecution, Price will serve one year in jail minus 9 days of time-served. The Landover resident faced a maximum of 22 years in prison: 10 years for second degree sexual assault, 3 years for indecent exposure and nine and a half years in a suspended sentence from a 2010 conspiracy to commit robbery conviction.
Powell said police tried to make the strongest two cases possible so that all of the victims did not have to face their attacker again. “It was a team effort and I was very proud to be a part of it. The community came together to work with law enforcement in a positive and collaborative effort,” Powell said. “Now that a sense closure has been brought forth with Price’s conviction, we will continue to forge partnerships with the community to predict, prevent, and nullify crime.”
In court, Price admitted to groping a woman on June 4, 2015. Authorities said it happened at 3 p.m. on the hiker/biker trail between Madison Street and Queensbury Road in Riverdale Park. A woman was walking with her child in a carrier, police said, when the suspect walked towards the victim acting if he was looking for his wallet or cell phone. As she walked past him, the man grabbed her buttox and ran away, according to Riverdale Park Police.
Price also admitted to exposing himself to a woman walking along the trail at 7:30 a.m. on July 27. Charging documents show the victim in this incident was the same victim from a June 8 attack. According to court records, the victim immediately noticed the man who had previously assaulted her, he moved into the wood line, only to reappear farther down the trail exposing himself. Fearing for her life, the woman ran toward the Riverdale Town Center and attempted to notify police, records said.
Early in the investigation, police listed a series of attacks, including incidents on May 26 and June 8 that Price was suspected of, but not charged with because there was not probable cause. The first incident occurred on May 26,when a woman was walking on the same trail in Hyattsville when the suspect in that case also pretended to look for something before grabbing the victim and running away. The Hyattsville Life & Times has contacted the Hyattsville City Police Department for information on why Price was not charged in this incident.
On June 8, a suspect tried to touch a female jogger on the trail in Riverdale Park, which court documents show was the same victim from the July 27 indecent exposure. While the victim described the assailant as having the same general build as Price, the June 8 suspect was wearing a mask.
“Although reasonable articulable suspicion existed identifying him as a person of interest in the case, probable cause did not exist in the case for the application of charges as the victim could not positively identify him as the assailant,” Powell said.
Price also pled guilty to violating parole in a 2010 armed robbery case. He previously served 5 months in jail awaiting trial and plead guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and theft of under $1,000, according to court records. Price was given a 10-year suspended sentence, save 175 days of time served, put on probation for 5 years and ordered to pay $870 to Dollar Tree. He was released from jail in Oct. 2010, according to county records.
On March 4, the judge sentenced him to 10 years second degree sexual assault, all but one year suspended, five years probation and a requirement that he undergo any treatment prescribed. He was also sentenced to an overlapping three years, all but one year suspended, for indecent exposure. Price’s violation of probation was closed as “unsatisfactory” and the $83 in remaining restitution to Dollar Tree will carry over.
“It allows for closure and allows peace of mind for the victims so they know they don’t have to go and face this guy again,” Powell said. “We want to make sure the community knows that we are out there for them.”