Duluth caregiver accused of raping vulnerable adult
The man, 51, brandished a knife during the attack on the 70-year-old, a complaint states.
DULUTH — A man allegedly raped a disabled 70-year-old woman at knifepoint while providing caregiver services.
Martin Jermaine Billue Sr., 51, of Duluth, was arraigned Tuesday in State District Court on five felony charges after the alleged attack at the victim's East Hillside neighborhood residence last week.
"Mr. Billue is alleged to have sexually assaulted the victim for over an hour within her own home," St. Louis County prosecutor Alexander Saumer told the court, describing the victim as a vulnerable adult who uses a walker or wheelchair due to mobility issues.
A criminal complaint indicates the victim uses a company called Papa, which connects elderly and disabled clients with "Papa Pals" — independent contractors who are able to accept jobs that involve providing companionship while helping with household tasks and shopping.
The victim told police that the assault occurred Jan. 30, but she did not report it until three days later out of fear. She said Billue arrived at her home but she did not immediately let him in because she believed a woman was supposed to respond. She let him in once he called and indicated he was sent from Papa.
The complaint states Billue immediately hugged the woman, and she thought it was strange that he was not wearing a name tag. She told investigators that he performed a series of household tasks and brought her to a couple stores. When they returned, she said, Billue failed to help her get back into her home or carry any bags, but did change clothes.
The woman said she asked Billue to put away clothes in a spare bedroom when he called for her. According to the complaint, she found him with his genitals exposed and holding a knife in his hand. The victim said she told him to leave, but he forced her onto the bed while still holding the knife.
The complaint states that Billue ripped off the victim's clothing and raped her, ignoring her pleas to stop as she experienced pain. Before leaving, he allegedly took a shower and told the victim to call Papa and request that he be sent to her residence again.
Authorities said the woman provided a detailed description of Billue, including unique tattoos on his body. She also went to an emergency room, where medical staff observed bruising from the assault, according to the complaint.
Billue, when located by police, allegedly admitted to having a sexual relationship with the woman but denied that anything illegal had taken place.
The defendant is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.
Billue is listed in the complaint as living at a North Shore Drive address, but Saumer said he does not appear to have any significant ties to the area, as public records have primarily placed him in the Twin Cities and Rochester areas. His earlier history includes convictions for felony drug sales and misdemeanor domestic assault, but his record since 2005 is limited to traffic and parking offenses.
Judge Jill Eichenwald set bail at $200,000 and ordered that Billue not have any contact with the alleged victim.
A Papa spokesperson told the News Tribune that the startup has "launched a comprehensive investigation" and removed Billue from its program.
"Prior to enrolling any new Papa Pal in the program, we do an extensive background check inclusive of criminal and sexual assault history," the company's statement said. "Further, we perform motor vehicle record searches in every state for those conducting transportation visits. In this incident, there was no history of violence of any nature, including sexual assault.
"As an added safety measure, we review visit feedback; and we also use AI to continuously monitor and surface anomalous situations, such as visits that lasted longer than expected and transportation that was not reported. Any incident that’s raised is thoroughly investigated."