The Flint Journal, Mich.
FLINT, MI – Investigators are going through thousands of hours of old video cassettes that they say may depict recorded sexual assaults by an accused Flint serial rapist.
A victim reported an alleged sexual assault of Gilbert Benny Conway, 60, of Flint, who now faces 86 counts of criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, extortion, gross indecency and other charges in connection to six different cases that go back as far as 2009.
But the number of victims and scope of the alleged crimes is still unknown.
Genesee District Court records for Conway show six different cases filed in 2018 that involve criminal sexual conduct where the alleged assaults took place between Aug. 29, 2009 and July 4.
“He had the camera set up while he’s raping his victims,” alleged Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. “We think there’s a whole lot more victims out there. We want to try to identify them and seek additional charges because we want to get justice for these victims.”
Charges were initially authorized by Leyton on July 7 – just four days after one assault allegedly occurred.
One victim reported an alleged assault to police, investigators were led to Conway’s home and a cache of videos were found, Leyton said.
That victim, Leyton said, led police to other victims, more charges and the 500 videos.
The ages of the victims was not available on court records.
MLive-The Flint Journal could not reach Conway’s attorney Archie Hayman for comment on Monday, Oct 8.
Conway is being held in the Genesee County Jail without bail.
It is believed there are “hours and hours” of video, Leyton said, and that the tapes “go back years.”
“It’s going to take a big time effort by the Flint police and my staff to go through it,” he said.
He said each tape could contain up to eight hours of video.
“We’ll go through the tapes, then try and identify the victims, then try and find them and interview them,” Leyton said. “You’re talking about a major-league investigation.”
MLive-The Flint Journal could not reach Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson for comment.
Genesee County Board of Commissioners on Monday, Oct. 8, approved a $20,000 special appropriation that will fund the transfer of around 500 “Hi8” videocassettes that were seized as evidence at Conway’s home.
“The city of Flint police have brought to our attention an ongoing investigation involving a serious crime that occurred the summer that has resulted in the discovery of evidence indicating we may have a serial criminal on our hands,” Leyton wrote in his request for the funds. “However, the Hi8 format is susceptible to video deterioration and is extremely cumbersome for our investigators to review.”
He said his office, Flint police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are working the case together and that the transfer of the video to digital format is the most important step to take at this point.
“The need is immediate, urgent and critical to the investigation and our efforts to prosecute the suspect,” Leyton wrote.
The special appropriation will pay to transfer the videos to digital format and allow investigators to determine the full scope of Conway’s crimes, Leyton said.
“This man has committed CSC, potential human trafficking,” Leyton said. “There could be a whole lot more victims.”
Conway was arraigned in Genesee District Court on Aug. 15 and has a preliminary exam set for Oct. 17.
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