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Charges Dropped Against Traveling Artist Accused of Raping Woman in His Van

By Erica Demarest | September 15, 2015 3:37pm | Updated on September 16, 2015 7:58am
 Samuel North, 29, was accused of raping a 19-year-old Little Village woman inside his van in June.
Samuel North, 29, was accused of raping a 19-year-old Little Village woman inside his van in June.
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Instagram/sammythrashlife; Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A Cook County judge on Tuesday dismissed charges against a traveling artist accused of raping a 19-year-old Little Village woman in the back of his van.

Samuel North, 29, was charged last month with criminal sexual assault after prosecutors alleged he raped and choked the woman, whom he offered to drive home after the pair met at a Humboldt Park music venue on June 27.

During a preliminary hearing Tuesday, Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. asked the woman whether she called 911 or asked a gas-station attendant for help when she and North stopped to use a restroom after the alleged attack.

The woman said "no," and shortly after, Bourgeois ruled there was no probable cause to pursue criminal charges in the case.

North, who creates art as Sammy thrashLife and blogs about his penchant for rough sex, has maintained the sexual encounter was consensual. He wrote on his blog last month, "I didn’t do this. The truth will come out."

The woman, who testified during a preliminary hearing Tuesday, said she was intoxicated and carrying a flask of whiskey when she and North met — and that she never consented to sex.

North declined to comment after the hearing, but his attorney Julie Aimen said "the judge's ruling was appropriate" and that her client was "very, very relieved."

During her testimony Tuesday, the 19-year-old woman said she met North outside The Flowershop, a pop-up West Side music venue, on June 27. She didn't have a ride home since none of her friends had shown up for the show.

North introduced himself as "Sammy," she said, before telling her she was cute, handing her a business card and showing her photos of his art on his phone.

North later offered to take her home or to a nearby ''L'' station, she testified.

According to Aimen, the business card said "I'm a f------ artist, guys" and called him "talented, charming and great at f------." The woman said she didn't remember what the card said; she had folded it and placed it in her bag.

North drove the pair to Chinatown to get food, the woman testified. Though the van was initially parked on a busy Chinatown street, North drove it to a quieter residential street before parking. North played a movie on his computer and the pair ate together, the woman said.

When she told North she wanted to go home, he pushed her down on a mattress in the back of the van, the woman testified. North forced her to perform oral sex before raping her, she claimed, and held her down by her throat.

The woman said she tried to push North away, but never verbally objected because "I couldn't speak."

After the alleged attack, North said she needed to find a restroom and walked away from the van with her phone, according to testimony. She called a friend and reported what happened, but eventually went back to the van over her friend's objection because she had left her wallet and backpack behind, she said.

During the woman's absence, North sent her a Facebook message asking where she was, according to court testimony.

She replied and told North she couldn't find a restroom. He then drove her to a nearby gas station, where she spoke with her friend and police on the phone, she testified. The woman agreed to meet officers and her friend at a nearby Red Line station.

North would later drop her off there and leave, according to authorities. He was arrested nearly two months later in downstate Bloomington.

As the woman recounted this part of the evening, Bourgeois interrupted and asked whether she ever called 911 when she was away from the van, or whether she asked a gas-station attendant for help. She said "no."

The woman went to a hospital the following the day, she testified, and a rape kit was collected. She said she suffered tears to her cervix, cuts to her anus and red marks on her pelvic area.

Aimen asked the woman whether she remembered North telling her he "liked rough sex with girls." She said "no" and remained adamant during cross-examination that the sexual encounter was not consensual.

North, who graduated from Georgetown University Law Center but never took the bar exam, has been required to live with a friend in Cook County since he was charged in this case in late August. The Florida native is now free to leave the area.

On July 1 of this year, North was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in Florida. He was sentenced to two years probation.

North frequently highlights his borderline personality disorder and past heroin addiction in the art he creates as Sammy thrashLife. He travels the U.S. in his van.

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