Every woman who accused Terry Lee Freeman Jr. of rape has told a similar story.
It began with a casual encounter: They met in class, at the gym, online or at their work, but they barely knew the 32-year-old man. A few flirtatious exchanges with the Deltona firefighter through text messages, or maybe a phone call, would lead to an invitation to his Orange City home.
It was there that Freeman suddenly became violent, using his strength to subdue victims, according to affidavits filed with law enforcement by 11 women from Seminole and Volusia counties.
Freeman was forceful but never used a weapon, according to the statements. He was coercive, but only a few women fought back; and he was aggressive, but he let his victims leave once it was over, the women said in their statements.
The first report to deputies came Dec. 27, when an Altamonte Springs woman arrived home and reported she had been sexually assaulted by Freeman at his home earlier that evening. He was arrested days later.
With Freeman behind bars, the emails and phone calls poured into the Sheriff’s Office, and the list of possible victims grew to 12 on Tuesday.
Women from Lake Mary, DeLand, Ormond Beach and Orange City came forward with accounts that dated as far back as 2002.
They told detectives shame and fear kept them silent, but Freeman’s attorney is not so sure.
Attorney Steven deLaroche, who is representing Freeman in the December case, said his client’s sexual encounters were “100 percent consensual,” and the victim accounts are dubious.
Freeman’s actions — allowing detectives to search his home twice, giving up his cellphone and volunteering statements — are not those of a guilty man, deLaroche said.
After the alleged rapes, deLaroche said some of the women continued to contact Freeman, sending him nude pictures of themselves, going out on subsequent dates and baking him cupcakes.
“They don’t sound aggrieved,” he said.
Suspect: Encounters consensual
Orange City police and Volusia County deputy sheriffs have filed charges in seven cases in the past three weeks against Freeman and say there could be more.
Freeman defended his actions to detectives, saying the sexual encounters were consensual.
After the alleged December attack, he told detectives the woman “appeared to enjoy herself and was ‘free to go’ at any time.”
Freeman told detectives he placed his hands on her throat because he “thought that [she] might like to get choked because he heard some women enjoy that,” the report said.
Successful prosecution of sexual crimes can be difficult. They rely on the credibility and testimony of victims and increasingly, DNA evidence, advocates say.
Freeman’s accusers told friends, family members or their doctors about their experiences, but the majority of the victims didn’t report them to authorities until now.
“There is safety in numbers,” said Scott Berkowitz, founder and president of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network based in Washington. “The more allegations against a person, the better the likelihood of convicting them.”