Minnesota, October 2015: Owoidighe Isongitiat Ekanem or “E.K.” (DOB 11/08/1980) faces felony charges for two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of kidnapping and one count of third degree assault in St. Louis County in Hibbing. Ekanem is accused of finding a teenager asleep in her car near the Mesabi bike trail near Chisholm then pulling the teenager from her car, beating her and raping her for an estimated 30-45 minutes. Bail has been set at $250,000.
A disturbing aspect of this incident is that Ekanem’s estranged wife reports that he is a “monster” who gets violent when he drinks. The estranged wife says that Ekanem drives an SUV with a child’s booster seat in the back.
According to the victim’s statement, Ekanem allegedly raped the teenager several times, including raping her while she was lying on a booster seat in the back of his SUV.
Ekanem’s criminal history includes financial transaction card fraud and a speeding ticket. In 2012, a criminal court issued a warrant for commitment against Ekanem related to the fraud charge, which means that he was found incompetent to stand trial.
If Ekanem has a booster seat in the back of his SUV then it is reasonable to think that he has some custody or parenting time with his child(ren). The allegations from the estranged wife also imply that she has raised concerns about Ekanem’s behavior, and that he poses a serious risk of harm to others when drinking (and possibly in other ways as well).
I am really interested in learning more about Ekanem’s family court case, and specifically if any allegations of abuse, drinking, violent or concerning behavior were raised during proceedings. From what has been said by his estranged wife, in combination with a history of civil commitment, clearly Ekanem should not have any unsupervised contact with his children.
I suggest that the investigators working this case consider that if Ekanem has had unsupervised contact with his children, abuse or maltreatment may have occurred. If there are any concerns, getting an evaluation from a qualified child psychologist or other professional is crucial. If children do not raise allegations about abuse, their behavior or development may also be indicative that something has happened. I am not saying the children should automatically be questioned or subjected to examination, but am suggesting that due to the seriousness of these allegations, in combination with Ekanem’s history, the safety and well-being of the children should be considered, especially if they have had any time alone or overnight unsupervised with Ekanem.
I would also suggest that the estranged wife talk to an advocate or battered women’s shelter about safety planning, and any options to ensure her safety and that of the children.
~ Emily Court
As of December 31, 2015, Ekanem is being held in the Aitkin County Jail. Aitkin County Jail is a County Jail used by the jurisdictions of Aitkin to confine inmates for short periods while awaiting trial or processing.
Charges read as follows: “EKANEM, OWOIDIGHE 12/08/15 Saint Louis
Charge: A9B00 – A9B00 – TERR THREATS-THRT CRM VIOL-NO WEAP-UNK RELAT L1B71
– CSC 1-CONTACT-ACQUAINT-UND AGE-13-F A3200
– ASLT 3-FE-SUBSTANTIAL INJURY-NO WEAP-UNK RELAT”
Minn. Stat: 253B.10 PROCEDURES UPON COMMITMENT.