A Christian contestant in the Miss California 2012 pageant says she could have been the next victims and was threatened not to talk with police by a man charged with raping another woman he met using the dating website ChristianMingle.com.
Sean Patrick Banks, a 37-year-old graduate student of Pepperdine University and a former lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, was arrested on Feb. 11 and charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of burglary for allegedly raping a woman in her 20s at her home in La Mesa in November. The man from Del Mar posted $500,000 bail and was released from custody.
"He was aware that I had evidence and he started intimidating me from that point not to talk to police," NBC News quoted Victoria Kinney, Miss Irvine-Orangewood in the 2012 Miss California pageant, as saying in an El Cajon courtroom Friday. The beauty queen was allegedly threatened the day Banks was released on bail.
Kinney, who met the suspect through the same dating website, said he was very charming initially but then he made comments that she took as threats. "He seemed like a good, strong, Christian man," she told 10News.com.
"I didn't listen to my instincts," NBC quoted her as saying. "In those instances and looking back, I absolutely should have… We discussed meeting for lunch when I returned and when I returned, he called me to let me know he had been arrested for rape."
Kinney added: "Women need to be aware that even if someone looks safe and nice and Christian and spiritual, they might be a predator."
Kinney's attorney, Daniel Gilleon, said his client wanted to testify about her experience to support other possible victims. "She's a Christian woman. She believes it's her duty at this point to come forward, share her story generally and ask other women to come forward."
Banks appeared in the court on Friday to face two additional criminal charges – rape of a woman he met through Match.com in 2009 and dissuading a witness. Judge Charles Ervin approved a protective order banning Banks from having contact or getting within 100 yards of Kinney. The suspect was taken into custody on a "no bail request" on the new charges.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 26.
The suspect used false names – Rylan Butterwood and Rylan Harbough – on the dating website. Detectives identified the man after months of investigation.
A representative of ChristianMingle.com earlier said the website would fully cooperate in the further investigation. "We are in communication with the La Mesa police department and willing to assist them in any way we can with the investigation," the representative said.
The dating website says, "Christian Mingle is the online community created specifically for Christian singles looking to find friends, romance or marriage." It added, "The basis for our faith is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Lord and Savior of the world and God's written Word, the Bible. We believe that embracing what God said allows us to live in freedom, joy, and purpose."
It also advises users to "pick a public place and provide your own transportation to and fro" when one decides to meet face to face. "Tell a friend where you're going and check in when you return home."