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Two arrested in rape at Wishing Well Pub

Michael C. Ward and Roger Dale Othberg, both of Lodi Drive, are charged in the assault of a 48-year-old woman.

By STEVE THOMPSON
Published May 5, 2004

NEW PORT RICHEY - A 48-year-old woman was choked, beaten and raped as she left the Wishing Well Pub early Monday, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office reported.

The woman told detectives that as she went out through the rear door about 12:30 a.m., someone hit her in the head with a beer bottle, pulled off her clothes and raped her.

Another attacker forced her to perform oral sex on him, she said, and she heard one of them say that they needed to kill her.

Since then, sheriff's detectives have been putting together a case that has resulted in the arrests Tuesday of two New Port Richey men.

The woman apparently didn't know Michael C. Ward and Roger Dale Othberg before she began talking with them that night in the bar at 7274 State Road 54, sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said.

It was Ward who hit her with the bottle and forced her to the ground as she left, Doll said.

Detectives arrested Ward, 38, early Tuesday after 19-year-old Othberg said he had witnessed the rape, arrest reports said. Othberg, who lives with Ward, told detectives he had tried to stop the rape, but Ward had threatened to kill him.

But Othberg himself was arrested Tuesday afternoon when he changed his story and admitted to taking part in the attack, the reports said.

According to his second account, Othberg tried to stop the attack as Ward raped the woman. But then on Ward's direction, Othberg said, he pulled his pants down to make the woman perform oral sex on him as Ward choked her and threatened to kill her.

Ward left the woman lying naked and bleeding, Othberg told authorities. Othberg said he told the victim to get dressed, go to a nearby 7-Eleven and call police.

The attack left the woman with cuts and bruises that required medical attention, the reports said, but further details on her condition were not available Tuesday.

Ward and Othberg, who both live with a family on Lodi Drive, were being held in the county jail Tuesday - Ward without bail and Othberg in lieu of $20,000 bail. Both men have previously faced charges including domestic battery and aggravated assault, state records show.

Othberg now faces a charge of involuntary sexual battery.

Ward faces charges of involuntary sexual battery and aggravated battery.

He also faces another charge stemming from his encounter with sheriff's canine Asko during his arrest. Deputies had been watching Ward's home, waiting for him to appear Monday evening. When Ward ran from the back yard, deputies released the German shepherd to catch him.

As Asko began biting him, Ward punched and kicked the dog to drive him back, a report said.

Ward was charged with resisting an officer - Asko - with violence.

- Steve Thompson covers crime in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is sthompson@sptimes.com

[Last modified May 5, 2004, 01:00:41]


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