Husband 'hired rapist to assault his own wife'

Police accuse suspect of trawling online small ads to arrange attack at knifepoint

A suspect is being held by American police after he allegedly used a personal advertisements website to arrange for an attacker to break into his home in the middle of the night and rape his wife at knifepoint.

The 25-year-old, from Kannapolis, North Carolina, is accused of using the Craigslist website to hire a complete stranger to jump through a bedroom window and have sex with his wife, using "scare tactics" without her knowledge or consent.

The arrest puts further pressure on the onlined classified service to carefully vet its postings. In a notorious case earlier this year, a Boston medical student dubbed the "Craigslist Killer" was charged with murdering a woman he met through the site. The San Francisco-based company, founded by the entrepreneur Craig Newmark in 1995, recently agreed to drop its "erotic services" section amid continued negative publicity and accusations that it facilitated prostitution.

Evidence of the latest alleged plot emerged after a tearful woman called emergency services at about 2.45am on Sunday, saying she had been attacked while sleeping. Her husband was in the room at the time, and their two young children were asleep elsewhere in the house.

Police say the husband, who has not been named to protect the victim's identity, became nervous when he was cross-examined by suspicious officers, who were seeking to work out why there was no sign of forced entry to the property.

"Investigators developed information that led them to note specific inconsistencies in the initial statement provided by [the man]," said a police statement, which explained that officers had taken away the couple's computer for examination. On Tuesday, they discovered evidence that the suspect "responded to at least two personal ads on Craigslist, in an effort to arrange for someone to come to his home and have sex with his wife using some type of scare tactic".

"Investigators believe [the man] arranged this incident without the knowledge or consent of the victim," the statement added.

The husband is being held on $200,000 bail and faces one charge of first-degree rape, two of committing a first-degree sexual offence and one of trying to commit first-degree sexual offence. Investigators have yet to identify the attacker and have not yet established whether he was paid.

Doctors at a hospital in Kannapolis, about 25 miles north-west of the state's largest city Charlotte, gave the woman a forensic examination early on Sunday morning. She is said to have received no serious physical injuries and was released shortly afterwards.

Yesterday, Craigslist, which operates across hundreds of cities in the US and worldwide and is one of the most visited sites on the internet, said it was appalled to hear of the alleged incident.

"We share the public's horror that such a crime was committed, and our heart goes out to the victim," a spokesman said in a statement.

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