Man who intended to steal woman he met online charged with attempted rape

A Florida college student came to Indiana last weekend with a plan to “steal” a woman he had met online, take her home with him and force her to marry him, court documents say.

His plan was derailed on the side of Interstate 65 in Johnson County, where an Indiana State Police trooper found him trying to rape the woman in the backseat of his car in broad daylight Saturday as she was screaming and fighting him, according to a probable cause affidavit charging the 19-year-old with attempted rape and other crimes.

Kung Bik Cem, of Tucker, Georgia, told the state trooper he had met the woman on Facebook and fallen in love with her, but she had become suddenly disinterested in him a week earlier. He came to Southport to find her at a family wedding she was attending, even though she had stopped answering his calls and text messages and didn’t want him there, the court documents said.

Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper said the sequence of events that unfolded were bizarre, and he had never seen a case such as this before.

Throughout Cem’s interviews with state police in the hours after the incident, he repeatedly explained his excitement about his plan of stealing his future wife and justified his actions by explaining that in his culture, this action was allowed and customary, the affidavit said. He demonstrated for police how he held her down in his vehicle and tried to scare her.

State police received a report of a disturbance on the side of southbound Interstate 65 between Whiteland and Franklin about 3:30 p.m. March 25. The trooper walked up to the car, heard a woman screaming and saw that she was partially undressed, the affidavit said. The man’s pants were down. After the trooper got Cem off of her and the woman was able to get out of the car, she crumpled over on the side of the road crying, the report said.

Cem is charged with attempted rape, criminal confinement and theft by the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office.

“Never before in 24 years of prosecuting crimes have I seen a police officer catch someone in the act of attempting to rape someone just moments before it actually happens,” Cooper said.

Cem drove from Jacksonville, Florida, where he takes university classes, on March 24, and slept three hours in his vehicle Saturday morning with a friend who came with him.

“Mr. Cem stated that he could no longer sleep out of sheer excitement that he was about to find his future wife, steal her and force her to go to Georgia with him,” Cem told troopers, according to the affidavit.

He came to the wedding and sat down next to the woman he had talked to online. She had traveled from another state for the wedding. Cooper is not aware of the suspect or victim having any ties to Johnson County.

The two had never met before. She told the trooper she had tried to end the relationship weeks ago, but he wouldn’t leave her alone, the court documents said.

At the wedding, Cem took her cellphone as a way to get her to come with him, he told the trooper. Cem also wanted to see if there was a reason in her phone for why she no longer wanted to be with him, and if his photo was still saved in her phone, he would know that she still loved him, he told troopers.

She followed him to his car because she wanted to get her phone back, and sat in his car for a few moments hoping he would return it, the report said.

Instead he drove away.

He told troopers how he tried to explain to her what his plan was, but she didn’t want to go and asked to be let go repeatedly. He told police he loved her and could not let her go. She kept trying to grab the steering wheel or shift his car into park, eventually forcing Cem to stop his car on the side of the interstate. She grabbed his keys, threw them out the window and tried to get out of the vehicle, the affidavit said.

Cem grabbed her and dragged her back into the car, breaking the buckles on her shoes and cutting her ankle, the report said. He put her in the backseat of his vehicle so she couldn’t get out, held her down and said he was going to get her pregnant so that she would be forced to marry him, he told police.

Cooper credits the presumed motorist who reported the disturbance on the side of the road with saving the woman from being raped.

“Someone saw this and it seemed odd and by making that phone call, we are filing attempted rape instead of rape,” Cooper said.

The criminal charges against Cem were filed Thursday. Cem is held at the Johnson County jail on $19,000 bond. Johnson Circuit Court Judge Mark Loyd has issued a no-contact order that forbids Cem from contacting the victim, according to court records.

Cooper has filed a motion with the judge to increase Cem’s bond, noting the nature of the crime and that the suspect is not from this area and could flee to a home in another state, Cooper said.

“Obviously this is a threat to our community, even though it (the community) basically had nothing to do with it,” Cooper said.

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Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mholtkamp@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2774.